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MEMOIR 



OP 



EEV. GEO. W. 3ETHUNE, D. D. 



BY 

REV. A. R. VAN NEST, D. D, 



NEW YORK: 
SHELDON AND COMPANY. 

498 BROADWAY. 

1867. 



Entered according to Act of Congress in llie year 18G7, by 

SEEI.DCN AM) CCMPA^'Y, 

In the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the Southern District of New 
York. 



3. E. FAftWKLL & CO., 

Stercotypers and Printers, 

ST Congress Street, 
BostoUi 



CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER I. 

PAGE 

Eaelt Life. 1 

CHAPTER II. 
TcENiNG TO God , . 19 

CHAPTER III. 
Seminary. — Visit to the South 41 

CHAPTER IV. 
Rhinebeck Miktstky 70 

CHAPTER V. 
Ministry in Utica. S^ 

CHAPTER VI. 
Settling in Philadelphia. — Wanderings in Europe. . 122 

CHAPTER VII. 
Success in Philadelphia. 1^3 

CHAPTER VIII. 

Art of Angling.— Eorest Life. 199 

CHAPTER IX. 

Literary and Public Labors 226 

CHAPTER X. 
New Church at Brooklyn. — Goes Abroad. « • .• 249 

(iii) 



IV CONTENTS. 

CHAPTER XI. 
Plattorm Oratoet. #273 

CHAPTER XII. 
Anonymous Attack. 319 

CHAPTER XIII. 
Patriotism. — Union Speech. 352 

CHAPTER XIV. 
Departure from Brooklyn. — Residence in New York. — 

Return to Europe 376 

CHAPTER XV. 
Closing Scenes 407 

CHAPTER XVI. 
Personal Reminiscences 424 



PREFACE 



The compiler of tbis volume presents the results of his labor to the 
public with modesty. This does not arise from any want of interest 
or importance in the subject, but JDecause it has been found difficult to 
present the portrait of a person so varied in gifts and rich in culture. 
He prefers therefore to call it a Memoir, as an instrument to preserve 
Dr. Bethune in memory, rather than a life which could assume to give 
a full and perfect representation. If there is any deficiency it is not 
caused by any lack of loving assistants in the good endeavor. Seldom 
has a book been written in which so many willing hands have borne a 
part. First and foremost stands Mrs. Bethune, who, with untiring 
fidelity, has collected her husband's correspondence and has contrib- 
uted many precious associations Mr. George Trott of Philadelphia, 
frequently known in the subsequent pages as " the Major,*' has filled 
up many blanks. J. B. Brown Esq., formerly consul at Florence, 
Italy, has been useful in collecting letters, and his facile pen has sup- 
plied many connecting sentences. Finally, when pastoral duty 
compels the editor to leave the country, Rev. Dr. W. J. R. Taylor, of 
the American Bible Society, has promised to see the book safely 
through the press. The names of other generous assistants will 
appear as the work proceeds, and to them our readers will owe a debt 

(V) 



VI PREFACE. 

of gratitude. Specimens of Dr. Bethune's sermonizing would have 
been given were it not contemplated to produce at least two volumes 
of his popular lectures and choice discourses. That there must be 
difference of opinion as to the positions taken by a man of such strong 
character on great questions is certain, but the aim of the biographer 
has been to take his view from the stand-point of his subject, and not to 
justify his course. Let those opposed exercise the grace of charit)'. 
The Memoir has been delayed by the collection of material, in fact 
the work was not fully put in our care until a httle more than a year 
since. If the result shall be to revive the love that any felt for this 
'* radiant messenger of God," if it shall justify him in the sight of any 
who have misunderstood his theories; above all, if it shall be the 
means of winning any to that Saviour whom it was the sincere and 
single desire of Dr. Bethune to proclaim, the writer will not have 
labored in vain : Salvete Omnes. 




Da. BETHUNE IN STUDY DRESS. 



MEMOIR OF 
GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 



CHAPTER I, 

EARLY LIFE. 



WHEN a person has gained a distinguished position, and 
made a marked impression upon the men of his time, 
it becomes interesting to observe the method or training 
by which such power has been acquired. It must be 
confessed that the subject of our memoir stood eminent 
amongst his own countrymen, and while much of his 
success was due to natural gifts, vastly more must be 
attributed to early culture and divine grace. George W. 
Bethune was descended from a long line of honored and 
pious ancestry. On the paternal side he sprang from the 
French Huguenots. In Picardy a large town bears the 
family name, and his house could boast of relation to the 
Duke of Sully, the friend of King Henry IV. * 

Persecution compelled them to join in the exodus from 
their native country, and they found a new home in Scot- 

* The name " Bethune " holds an illustrious place in French history. The family 
were Counts of Flanders, and one of them, Bobert de Bethune, signalized himself 
by taking La Roche Vandais where the rebel Marcel had retired. Another of the 
same name in Sicily killed Maufuoy, the tyrant, an act which Charles of Anjou 
rewarded by the gift of his daughter Catherine as wife. In later times they formed 
the highest social connections, even contracting royal alliances. — ifcmofr* o/ the 
Duke of Sully. 

(I) 



2 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

land. From Rosshire in that land, Divie Bethune, the 
father of Dr. B., emigrated in early life first to Tobago, 
West Indies, and afterwards to the United States, locating 
in New York. His motive for the latter change seems to 
have been a religious one, as is evident from his first intro- 
duction to notice by Mrs. Graham : — 

"There is a young man here of the name of Bethune (pronounced 
Beaton), who was in Tobago, and has told me of his steadiness in non- 
conformity to the world even there, and his strict adherence to his 
profession, though he stood one of two who made any. This young 
man became alarmed even there, and though his prospects of rising in 
life were confined to that place, he finally took the resolution to leave 
it and seek a Christian land ; he engaged here as a clerk in a wholesale 
store, and wandered about from church to church for some time, at last 
our John nailed him, by the blessing of God, and last Sabbath he 
became a hopeful communicant. He is a lad of sense, has had a liberal 
education, and John thinks him a double acquisition." 

His early promise was not disappointed. He soon became 
one of the most prominent and successful merchants of the 
city, around whom the younger would gather for advice. 
His piety increased with his years, and he was ready for 
every good and generous enterprise ; in fact there was 
little in the way of Christian benevolence in which he was 
not a leader or a vigorous assistant. 

"He printed the first religious tract long before the Tract Printing 
House, he imported Bibles for distribution long before the Bible Society 
was opened, was a foreign director of the London Missionary Society 
long before any Missionary Society existed here, was one of the found- 
ers of the American Colonization Society, and amongst the very 
earliest movers in the cause of Seamen, long before the Seamen's 
Friend Society." 

He was one of the founders of the Princeton Theological 
Seminary. When most successful in business, this good 
man had an inclination to abandon his brilliant prospects 



EARLT LIFE. 3 

and enter Princeton Seminary, that he might be fitted to 
become a missionary to the destitute parts of the country, 
and then he exults at the thought of his entire family being 
" Witnesses for Christ/' 

About this period he became acquainted with Miss Joanna 
Graham, who was a member of the Scotch Presbyterian 
Church, with which he connected himself, under the pastor- 
ate of Dr. John Mason ; she, like him (Mr. B.,) was earnestly 
devoted to Christ, and sympathized in all his benevolent 
ideas ; she was born in America, but her family were also from 
Scotland, and their faith, eminent through successive gen- 
erations, brought down to her a rich inheritance of cove- 
nant promises. Her mother was Mrs. Isabella Graham, 
whose life of shining goodness has given her a high place 
in Christian biography. The father and mother of this lady, 
Mr. and Mrs. John Marshall, were both pious, and her grand- 
father was one of the Elders who quitted the Established 
Church with the Rev. Ralph and Ebenezer Erskine. She 
married Dr. John Graham, who, becoming a surgeon in the 
British army, was ordered to Canada, and tlius the family 
fixed its future abode in the New World. The father having 
died, Mrs. Graham who had a finished education, was in- 
duced to open a school for young ladies in New York, in 
the management of which she was assisted by her daugh- 
ters. This school soon became very flourishing, and a 
source of blessing to many ladies of the highest social po- 
sition. To one of these daughters, Miss Joanna, Mr. Be- 
thune professed his love, and after much serious reflection 
and prayer, a marriage was consummated. The union of 
such godly persons, well grounded in the doctrine of Christ, 
full of zeal in his cause, was very happily consummated ; 
all their children were converted in their youth, and their 
only son became the useful minister concerning whom we 



4 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

write. He was born March 18, 1805, at Greenwich, then a 
small village, but long since absorbed in the magnificent 
growth of New York City. He was peculiarly a child of 
prayer ; devout intercession was made before his birth, and 
the event is thus acknowledged in his father's diary. 

*' Lord, O Lord! how shall I praise thee for the mercies of this day. 
Truly it may be said of me and mine, what hath God wrought. Thou 
art our trust. Blessed be the Lord for a living mother and a living 
child. Oh ! remember my request this morning. Eeceive my dedica- 
tion of my son. Thou knowest all along what I have asked of my 
God, that if he gave me a son, he might be sanctified from the womb, 
and be made a faithful, honoured and zealous minister of the everlasting 
gospel. Lord, hear us in this thing. ! let this son be chosen of thee 
to declare to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ. Give to 
his dear mother and myself grace and wisdom for bringing him up in 
the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Let him be a Samuel to the 
Lord. 1 Sam. 1:27, 28." 

A similar act of dedication occurred at his baptism on 
April 14, 1805 : 

" This afternoon my dear infant son George was baptized by Mr. 
Forrest. I hope I can say, that with full purpose of heart he was de- 
voted to the Lord by both his dear mother and myself. Mr. F. preached 
from Gen. 1 : 27, and after sermon came home with us, and prayed fer- 
vently for our infant and other children. O my God ! thou hast seen 
my exercises this day ; the strong, simple faith I exercised in the prom- 
ises thou hast made me to fasten upon, for n)y dear infant George this 
day devoted to thee. Lord, honour this faith of thine own operation. 
Let a blessing always attend the means of grace and instruction to tliis 
man child, whom thou hast given us. Open his understanding early to 
understand the Scriptures. Affect his heart even in infancy to love tlie 
precious Saviour, and to adore his covenant Jehovah. Instruct his 
mother and me to instruct him. Direct to proper teachers. Teach the 
teachers to teach and bless their labours to him. Fortify his young 
heart against the temptations, the false pleasures, the alluring vanities, 
the contaminating examples of an evil worM. May he seek thee early 



EAKLY LIFE. 5 

and find tliec. Endow him richly with spiritual gifts. Give him the 
learning of the world, and the divine wisdom to use his learning and his 
abilities for the noblest purposes, the illustration of thy love, thy will, 
thy grace to sinners of mankind. Make him a faithful minister of 
Jesus Christ, humble, holy and self denying. Give him a contented 
mind, a thankful heart. May he declare the whole counsel of God, and 
while he is faithful and sound in his doctrine, do thou grant him to be 
eloquent, animated, impressive and acceptable. I ask all this, for thou 
art able to grant all I can ask. I ask it now, young as he is, knowing 
that thou art God. Life is thy gift, life spiritual and divine is thy 
work in the soul of man, all the gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit 
are thine to bestow, power to make the preacher's word successful is 
of God, thou canst guide through life, conduct through death, and 
minister an abundant entrance into glory. To whom then shall I go ? 
To whom would I go ? My God ! unto thee, and thee alone. Hear my 
supplications this day. Behold the promises I have taken." Isaiah 44 : 
3, 5. 65:23, 24, 69:21." 

Most remarkable prayer and how wonderful the fulfilment. 
God granted to this man of faith, the very things he sought 
for. The entire diary of Mr. Bethune might be published 
to show the atmosphere which hallowed the home of this 
young Samuel, and as a pattern for Christian parents. 
Every important step in his life was sanctified by believing 
prayer. Only a few months passed, when he was brought 
very low by an attack of scarlet fever. This stroke came 
very heavily upon the parents, as they had lately been 
called to part with a beloved daughter, and now God 
seemed about to take away their only son. It was a time 
" of great searchings of heart/^ of deep humiliation and 
earnest wrestling with God, in that pious family. The good 
man prays, but he asks according to the rule of faith, 
*•' Lord, let this dispensation have a blessed effect, let us 
search our hearts and see, may we search them as with 
the candle of the Lord.'^ As the case grows more alarm- 
ing: 



6 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

"0 my God! it appears to be thy \rill to ask of us the surrender of 
our dear George, also. Lovely babe! How proud we were of him. Bat 
who gave him? Who made him such? None but thou, my God. 
Therefore, however dear to our hearts, however consoling to our pride, 
this precious gift may have been, it is our duty to resign him to thy call. 
! make it a willing duty on our part. Let grace reign in our hearts 
to humble, to sanctify and to resign. To do this must be thy work. * * * 
But yet, low as he appears, it is still in thy power to save his life, and to 
restore him to us. Lord, if it be lawful for us to urge this request, we 
do urge it. What people is so great as thy people? Who have God so 
nigh unto them as the Lord our God is to us in all things that we call 
upon him for ? Lord, if it be really thy purpose to take from me my 
George, O, receive him to thyself. May I yet meet my babe in heaven, 
and there hear him sing to all eternity glory to our God." 

When in answer to this effectual, fervent prayer of a 
righteous man, health was restored, the voice of thanksgiv- 
ing went up from that habitation, and the child was more 
than ever dedicated unto the Lord. 

" Oh how thankful should I be ! My babe, I trust, will not be raised 
for nothing. He will be the Lord's ! Oh my gracious God, who hast so 
far consented to our prayers, do thou crown thy mercy by sanctifying 
this child from bis infancy, and qualifying him by thy Spirit for being 
an eminently pious, able, useful, humble herald of thy gospel. Oh, my 
precious Saviour, thy goodness to me is overflowing goodness ; my be- 
loved son George, so providentially spared; so humbly but zealously set 
apart for thy special service, not only by me, but seemingly by pious 
Mr. Forrest and others ; my confidence in thy protection through all my 
trials, all, all these rich mercies of my covenant God. " 

When the child was a little more than two years old, chas- 
tisement became necessary, which was attended with the 
same spirit of prayer. Sept. 2Y, 1807. 

"This morning I had to use the rod of correction very severely, on 
my darling George, who discovers a most violent temper. And now, 
oh my God! enable me to plead for my George. He is a child of 



EARLY LIFE. 7 

Adam. Bless to his young heart the rod of correction. Oh, my God, 
my God, suffer me to surrender this charge to tliee. Oh, undertake 
thou for me. Subdue thou his corruptions, and mouhl hira early, even 
in infancy to thy will. " 

The same fault is mentioned in the fifth year of his age 
1809. " Grant early and great grace to our dear George, 
who discovers so much of a high temper." "Behold 
his strong corruptions and headstrong manner. Teach him 
by thy grace, and oh, teach us to bring him up for thee." 

This was a marked feature in the j^outh, at one time 
leading to the injury of a young companion, when his 
emotion was as intense in penitence, as it had before been in 
wrath. He suffered more than the one he wounded, and 
going upon his knees besought forgiveness. These prayers 
run on in the same spirit, day after day, and year after year. 
It would have been strange indeed, it would have argued 
against the truth of God's promises, if such faithful, 
loving entreaty, had not been followed by a great and abun- 
dant blessing. When we consider the future greatness of 
the man, we must recall the foundation of praj'er on which 
his education was built. 

The family residence at this time, was a pleasant villa on 
the banks of the Hudson, which the good man named in his 
Diary, ''Mount Ebenezer." Dr. Bethune alludes to it in 
later years, in a poem to his mother : 

I've lived through foreign lands to roam, 

And gazed on many a classic scene, 
Yet would the thoughts of that dear home 

"Which once was ours oft intervene, 
And bid me close again my weary eye 
To think of thee and those sweet days gone by. 

That pleasant home of fruits and flowers, 
Where by the Hudson's verdant side 



8 MEMOm OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

My sisters wove their jasmine bowers, 

And he we loved, at eventide, 
"Would hastening come from distant toil to bless 
Thine and his children's radiant happiness. 

Alas the change ! ihe rattling car 

On flint paved streets profanes the spot, 
Where o'er the sod we sowed the Star 

Of Bethlehem and Forget-me-not. 
Oh I woe to Mammon's desolating reign, 
We ne'er shall find on earth a home again ! 

Divie Bethune being one of the foremost merchants of 
the city, it must have been a home of luxury and taste, 
and being prominent in every scheme of Christian benev- 
olence, it must have been the constant resort of the great 
and the good ; there too were found distinguished min- 
isters, well-known missionaries and leaders in social 
life. 

** Well do I remember," says one who was afterwards tenderly asso- 
ciated with the subject of this memoir, " our gambols on the green 
lawn which sloped to the river, and the glee with which we laved our 
hands in the grand Hudson. I have a sweet recollection of the happy 
family, the genial smile with which I was welcomed by his sainted 
father ; kind words from his mother and sisters as we admired the new 
roses, and heard the history and specialty of each. She had named 
the pleasant home ' Rose Bank,' from its great variety of roses. The 
English cook too, who had come into the family when George was a 
few months old, and the Hindoo servant* who had been found by Mr. 
Bethune, stretched on his master's grave to die, and taken home to live 
and be a faithful servant for forty years, all ready and anxious to con- 
tribute to my happiness." 

In the large hall of this mansion the village children 
assembled for Sabbath instruction, and when a grand occa- 

♦ Known aftenvards as Richard. 



EARLY LIFE. 9 

sion offered, as for instance a marriage, the orphans were 
recipients of the good cheer. 

There were two sisters, the elder, Jessie, married Rev. 
Dr. McCartee of New York ; the younger, Isabella, united 
to Rev. Dr. Duffield of Detroit, Mich, both of them gifted 
women, who with their brother, were early taught the 
practice of good works. He was a Sunday School teacher 
at the age of thirteen. 

For several years his education was conducted entirely 
by his mother, who as we have seen, was a teacher of 
some experience, admirably adapted to develop the gifts of 
her son. To this maternal care he was indebted for many 
of the graces which adorned his future career, especially 
for his accomplishments as an orator, and intimate acquaint- 
ance with English Classics. Instruction was commenced 
early and by most easy and natural methods. When two 
years old his letters were learned from the walks at their 
villa, his mother drawing them upon the gravel. Gram- 
mar was taught by chairs, and arithmetic computed by 
marbles and balls. There was a remarkable development 
of talent, but it was difficult to subject to discipline. 
Causality was early prominent, for he was found one day 
struggling with the old cat, to bury her in the ground that 
she might grow kittens. The school system of that day 
was but little adapted to his disposition. The trial was 
not attempted until he had attained some years, but 
upon the very day of his introduction to school, seeing a 
companion who received undeserved punishment, he could 
not endure the wrong. Young as he was, he attacked the 
teacher and w^as summarily dismissed from the school. 
Later he was placed with Dr. Nelson, the blind teacher, 
whose severity was traditional amongst the older New 
York families, and a similar cause led to his removal. 



10 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETIIUNE, D. D. 

When reading his Latin lesson, for every mistake in which 
a blow might be expected, he became so enraged that he 
seized the rod from the teacher's hand and applied it 
vigoronsly to his shoulders. Faulty as were these extrava- 
gances of temper, and much anxiety as they must have 
awakened ; yet, it is to be observed, that it was this same 
impetuous, violent disposition which, when sanctified by 
Divine grace, made him such a resolute and intrepid de- 
fender of righteousness. 

But over that display of depravity the godly father 
mourned, and it was the occasion of new and more earnest 
appeals to the throne of grace for Divine direction. These 
entries occur in his diary 

Dec. 17, 1815. 
*' My dear and only son George gives me much uneasiness from his 
carelessness and seeming indifference to religious exercises. " Feb. 4, 
1816. "My poor young and only son George continues to exhibit a 
great degree of insensibility. Oh Lord have mercy upon him. His 
heart is hard and cold to religion. With man it is impossible to heal 
him, but with God all things are possible." April 14, 1816. *'I am now at 
a loss to whose care I shall commit my dear son George, and am deeply 
exercised respecting his spiritual conviction. Oh Lord, my God, thou 
seest the deep and pungent exercises of my soul with regard to my be- 
loved son, whom thou hast given me, whose life thou hast preserved. 
What shall I do with him ? To whose care shall I commit him ? I feel 
helpless as an infant in tbis work. Oh God, my Saviour, undertake for 
me. * * * I know that he lies at mercy, and my inmost soul rejoices 
that he lies at ihrj mercy. * * Make him thy chosen vessel consecrated 
to the Gospel Ministry. Every thing now seems to deny this hope, yet 
I would commend him to thee, and hope against hope." May 19, 1816. 
Blessed be thy name for giving us a prospect of placing him with thy 
servant, Dr. Proudfit. I trust it is from thee. Oh prepare his way be- 
fore him. " 

Thus light dawned upon the path, the youth was placed 



EARLY LIFE. 11 

with Rev. Alex. Proudfit, D. D. of Salem, Washington Co., 
N. Y., pursuing his studies at the Academy under the care 
of Rev. Joel Nott. This school was the nursery of many 
ministers, Drs. Jas. M. Mathews, Wm. R. Dewitt, James 
Beattie, John Proudfit, and Messrs. J. B. Steele, and William 
Williams ; most of them older than Bethune. It is feared 
that he did not advance rapidly in study at this place ; but 
there were great advantages attending the change. He was, 
at a most impressible age, removed from the temptations 
of town life, and brought into contact with the simplicity 
of country manners. His physical nature was strengthened 
by manly sports of horsemanship and angling. Here he 
made acquaintance with Fisher Billy. Dr. Prime of the 
Observer, writes : — 

" I asked Dr. Bethune where he, city born and bred, acquired his taste 
and skill in fishing. He said ' that when a boy, at the Academy in Salem, 
Washington County, N.Y., he fell in with a man called Tisher Billy 
who gave him lessons and showed him how.' * What, Fisher Billy 
from Cambridge ? ' I asked, with some surprise, ' how came he there with 
you ? ' * The same man,' the Dr. replied ; ' he was often in debt and 
obliged to go to Salem on the limits ; but the limits included a fine trout 
stream, and there he practised the vocation that had tempted him to neg- 
lect his business and lose his property.'" 

Here, too, was cultivated that love of nature which 
was such a notable feature of Dr. Bethune, amidst some of 
its most lovely scenery, whilst gathering wild flowers upon 
the hills, or whipping the trout streams at the base of the 
Green Mountains. Neither was study entirely neglected. 
He writes playfully to his mother ; — 

♦'Dec. 1817. 
My hat is a little too large ; howerer if I stuff a little more Latin and 
Greek into my saphead, I shall be able to fill it. I have been studying 
hard, and think I shall be able to enter the Sophomore Class of Unioii 
College in the Spring. " 



12 MEMOIR OF GKO. W. BETHUXE, D. D. 

At Salem, was formed an intimacy with Miss Mary- 
Williams, the daughter of Colonel Williams, a beautiful 
maiden of his own age, which afterwards ripened into most 
devoted affection, an affection that increased with advan- 
cing years, which was the joy and beauty of his future life, 
which always had the warmth of youthful love and was not 
chilled even by death, which, sanctified as it was, will 
bloom fair and sweet in the morning of eternity. When 
she was about leaving her happy home for boarding-school, 
it was his part to cheer up her first great grief while the 
stars were shining in the sky, and with his merry and witty 
rhymes change the sighs of regret into shouts of laughter. 
He had some skill in music and often amused himself with 
the flute, on which he became a finished performer, beguiling 
away the hours and pains of sickness^ in at least one 
instance, with his sweet melodies. He was quite an adept 
in the art of boxing, an exercise for which to the day of 
his death he expressed respect ; which, if report speaks 
truly, was again called into exercise in behalf of injured 
innocence in the person of his young companion, John 
Williams, who suffered from the imtable temper of their 
tutor. His genial nature made him a great favorite with 
the young, and while the old people shook their heads and 
called him the mischievous New Yorker, they were not the 
less charmed with his humor, and many enjoyed the benefits 
of his bounties which he scattered with a lavish hand. 
Even at this early period he shone as a member of a 
literary club, known as the " Washington Adelphi Society,'' 
and in the youthful gatherings he was leader of the fun and 
frolic. The religious atmosphere of the place was not 
without its salutary influence. It js thus noted by liis 
father : -^ 



EARLY LIFE. 13 

"Both of Dr. Proudfit's sons are under serious impressions. My 
dear son seems to understand much of tlie system of truth, with a 
secret hope of being brought to its saving knowledge, but his vivacity 
of manner and activity as yet prevent the hope of serious convictions. " 
Again, "I have visited my son much to my satisfaction in Dr. Proudfit's 
family. I trust that Jehovah, who mercifully provided such a situation 
for my beloved son, will be graciously pleased to sanctify it to him. Oh 
may he live consecrated to God. " 

Thus peacefully and with much profit passed two of the 
happiest years of his life, when he was called to New York 
to be placed under a tutor's care in view of a better prepara- 
tion for College. In this prospect, as in every important 
change, the pious father was diligent in seeking divine di- 
rection. At Salem young Bethune had formed a close 
friendship with William Williams, a little older than himself, 
"a truly pious boy, humble minded, intelligent and pleasant 
in his deportment, exercised in faith and unto godliness.'' 
The two young men were " like David and Jonathan." This 
latter was now invited to enter Mr. Bethune's family, 
doubtless with the purpose of improvement from his reli- 
gious influence, and shortly after the father rejoices '' that 
his dear son is at home with us, blessed with a pious youth 
for his companion and satisfied with him, both studying 
closely under a pious tutor," and was deeply impressed 
with the responsibility and honor of training these young 
men for the Lord's service. In the days of his son's great- 
est insensibility this purpose of the man of faith never 
faltered. When George was fourteen years of age they en- 
tered Columbia College, N. Y., in the fall of 1819. In the rou- 
tine of academical studies he attracted no special interest. 
He held a moderate position, neither rising high in the scale 
of merit nor falling belov/ respectability ; but, as before, he 
was distinguished in all the exhibitions of eloquence, and 



14: MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

was an ornament of the Philolexian Society. Upon leaving 
college his friends wrote : 

" Your society will be mourning your loss in dust and aslies. " "The 
exhibition (of the Society) was superior, but this did not happen with- 
out forcibly reminding me of my good old crony George, who afforded 
me so much pleasure in the recitation of the 'Prisoner of Chillon,' 
nor was I the only one in whom it excited the recollection of past pleas- 
ure. Many were heard to say, * Do you recollect how well George 
recited. ' " 

Here was exerted that peculiar influence over his young 
companions; which in after years was described as a magical 
charm that he possessed of attaching others to himself. 
Perhaps a friend of his youth (Dr. Smith Pyne, of AVash- 
ington, D. C,) has given the explanation of this power : 

" I sympathize sincerely in your happiness, but my very dear friend, 
I think it is hardly possible for you to be unhappy anywhere. The 
strength of your understanding, and the buoyancy of your spirits fortify 
you against all the lesser, but most annoying ills of life, and you have 
that open-heartedness and fascination of manner, which must make 
friends for you wherever you may be. I do not believe, George, I ever 
met with a person whose countenance was so perfect an index of his 
feelings as yourself, and the quality which I love you most for, is that 
blunt honesty with which you will tell a friend his faults, and the single- 
heartedness and affectionate pleasure with which you praise his good 
qualities. " 

His humor and love of sport led him to practise on the 
dullness of a classmate who requested aid in the preparation 
of essays, by inditing the most extravagant and pedantic 
papers which the young gentleman would recite with all the 
sobriety of a Nestor, to the great amusement of all the 
college except the victim. In fact the life of young Be- 
thune at this time was a joyous, rollicking one. Songs were 
continually upon his lips, smiles beamed on his face and 



EARLY LIFE, 15 

play and fun occupied his whole heart. Another of 
his amusements at this period, which absorbed much of his 
time, was the game of billiards. An early acquaintance, 
who was requested to furnish materials for this memoi)-, 
said, " I was only intimate with him during' his college daj^s, 
and my associations are not such as you would care to put 
in the record of a gospel minister.'' Another classmate thus 
recalls old memories : 

" At one time, I imagine myself in the windo\7-seats of Columbia Col- 
lege cracking jokes with my old crony George, and I almost answer to 

the imaginary voice of old , * Mr. Bethune and Mr. you are 

continually diverting my attention ; ' at another time I detect myself in 
the act of beating my own sides under the impression that I am the 
black stud's back, and endeavouring to cast the dust of the avenue in 

the eyes of C 's mare. Then again I well imagine that I am in the 

Society room, listening with deep attention to j'our eloquence, or my 
lively imagination carries me forth to the cricket ground, where I view 
your weighty corpus in the fruitless contests for superiority of agility 
with the shadowy form of J. Y. and there also I hear your expostu- 
lations with old Turvey for the extravagant price and base qualities of 
his beer. " 

The same friend gives him a full account of the Long 
Island races and bets which he and other friends had 
made, and assumes that they both will be equally inter- 
ested in the success of the great " Eclipse." But while 
thus occupied in a career of gayety and worldliness, it is 
not to be supposed that he sank into any of the baser forms 
of dissipation ; he was frolicsome and this led him into 
mischief; he was impetuous and this caused many quarrels ; 
but he was alwa3^s devoted to refined female society, and 
this, combined with the sanctified influences of home, pre- 
served him from the haunts of vice. A companion who was 
with him on an excursion, which had much of extravagance, 



IG MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

says, that he reminded Dr. B. of it in after life, when he re- 
plied, " I remember it well and have deeply repented of 
it; from that text I have preached fifty sermons.'' As 
this made so deep an impression, we conclnde that such oc- 
casions could not have been frequent even in his wild days. 
About this period, while engaged in cricket play upon the 
battery, his leg was dislocated by a young companion. With 
much self command he desired his friends to send for Dr. 
Post, an eminent surgeon. The Doctor ordered the at- 
tendants to pull off the boot, the operation being painful, 
the youth cried, "Gut the boot,'- when the Doctor inter- 
fered, saying, " Young man, when you earn the money to 
pay for boots, you may order them to be cut to pieces." — 
The good doctor's design was quickly evident, for in the 
hard pull upon the member it had been restored to its nor- 
mal condition. This accident was the cause of a long and 
trying confinement, during which numerous friends came 
to visit him, among whom was the eloquent and saintly 
Methodist preacher, Summerfield, who had just commenced 
his ministry in New York. He talked seriously, although 
he said, the conversation of gay companions was now 
more acceptable ; yet he felt sure that some day Bethune 
would not only delight in religion, but that he (Mr. S.) 
would hear him proclaim the Saviour's love with power to 
dying sinners. This hope was realized, for although it 
pleased the Lord to remove this good man from his labors 
before the youth had finished his theological studies, still 
Summerfield was privileged to hear him urge the cause of 
missions, pleading for the love of Jesus. At last he was re- 
stored to his full powers, but alas ! neither the trying prov- 
idence, nor all the pious addresses, nor the frequent prayers 
made in his behalf had produced any marked effect ; he rose 



EAELY LIFE. 17 

from his sick bed the same careless worldly youth ; not that 
he was entirely destitute of religious impressions, such could 
scarcely be the case, considering the pious surroundings of 
his home. His father, who watched anxiously every hope- 
ful sign, thus wrote in his diary : 

" My dear George is now singing hymns. I hear his dear voice ; it is 
a pleasant sound. ! my God, put life in his soul that there may bo 
life in his praise. " 

Again: "Read with George and Williams three verses alternately, 
making afterwards suitable remarks, partly offered by myself, and partly 
elicited from them by the eighth chapter of Mark. I thought George 
appeared raised to more spiritual concern in the discussion of this im- 
portant chapter than I have seen him for a long time." 

But whatever signs of good there might have been, this 
was a period of deepest solicitude to the godly parent, and 
most earnestly did he betake himself to the throne of grace. 

*' Lord, bless my son. Thou seest how very cold and careless he is. 
Lord, do in this matter as in other things ; when thou hast shown me my 
utter inefficiency towards effecting any good work in him, do thou be 
pleased to step in with majesty and grace to make him willing in the day 
of thy power." "Yesterday was the birthday of our beloved son, on 
which he completed his fifteenth year. Blessed, ever blessed be my 
God, who hath preserved him so long to his fond parents. Oil make his 
whole soul one flame of fire to Thee — his whole life a hymn of praise 
to Thee. Hasten it in its time. Oh, Lord God, strengthen my faith to 
wait for it ; believing that though it tarry, I shall wait for it because it 
will surely come ; it will not tarry ; the just shall live by faith. " 

What strong, persevering faith was that which believed 
when appearances were so dark, and could hopefully say, 
" I seem to feel as if the conversion of our dear son George 
would be given to us.'^ Neither was it all faith, but he 
joined works to faith. It has been noted with how much 
2 



18 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

care he selected his school and tutor, sought out for him 
companions, supplied him with suitable religious books, di- 
rected him to such preaching and places as were specially 
favored by the Holy Ghost, and neither of his parents wearied 
in personal addresses on the subject. The following ex- 
tract is a specimen of their soul-stirring appeals : 

" Can I be easy, my beloved George, until I see you escaped from the 
snares of Satan, and delivered from the inward dominion of sin, the 
agent of Satan in the hearts of men. You have only to pray fervently 
to God for his Holy Spirit, and confessing your weakness, your ignorance 
and your danger, to cast yourself on the covenant mercy of God, en- 
sured by his precious promises to them who ask the one and plead the 
other with sincerity of heart. Now, my dear George, retire to your room 
and pour out your heart before God, and examine the Scriptures, and 
plead the promises Avhich I have set down for you ; here are some texts 
marked. "Were you to die in your present state, or to continue thought- 
lessly in sin, until your heart became hardened through the deceitfulness 
of sin ; alas ! how awful would your end and your eternity be, and how 
heart-rending the affliction of your dear mother and myself for the eter- 
nal ruin of our only and dear son. My dear son, no other good is worth 
pursuing, until you have secured the chief good, and having once ob- 
tained the favour of God and the hope of eternal life, you could then 
pursue all other studies with cheerfulness, diligence and effect. You 
will therefore allow the love of a father to be importunate for the welfare 
of a dear son, and as you love me who love you so truly, I lay it upon 
you to think seriously on the subject, to occupy your mind with truth, 
and to devote a part of every day in retirement, to supplicate the bless- 
ing of God on your soul and your life." 

During his youth he was subject to several attacks of sick- 
ness, often assuming a character of much severity. Al- 
though surrounded with so many good influences, addressed 
by so many tender appeals, warned by God's providences, 
Satan still had the mastery ; the hard, natural heart resisted 
the means of grace, and George remained a worldling. 



TURNING TO GOD. 19 



CHAPTER II. 

TURNING TO GOD. 

The mode of life we have described could not have been 
pleasing to godly parents and the position is thus given : 

*'My soul is afflicted by the thoughtless state of my dear son's mind. 
He has a hurried order of spirit which impels him to pursue with eager- 
ness any object that suddenly gains his attention. At college he is 
exposed to companions and conversation unsuitable to the general tenor 
of my instructions to him. The young men rouse liis pride and his jeal- 
ousy by accounts of routs and plays and parties, and now before liis 
education is finished, he is thirsting for enjoyments, which, by anticipat- 
ing, he may never be able comfortably to possess. "Whilst his heart is 
diverted from a love of religious duties and hardening against self-deny- 
ing courses, whilst his deadness to spiritual tilings gives no sign of liis 
becoming a minister of the gospel; his indolent, gay disposition, if indul- 
ged, will unfit him for those business habits so essential to a commercial 
life. My soul is sometimes harrowed Avitliin me." 

At another time we read : — *' Almighty God, I would now come before 
thee, and ask wisdom as to the course of conduct I should pursue with 
respect to my son. He is of an impetuous, assimilating temper, and 
much exposed to temptations at the college, with so many thoughtless 
companions, and no adequate benefit derived from the risk. He is in 
the way of idle, speculative views and habits, and is now getting a relish 
for company. He will be learning to spend largely, without being at all 
fitted to make anything. Would it not be better to place him at once 
with a merchant to learn liis business, and to acquire habits of industry 
and diligence, as well as skill of goods ? I beseech thee, oh my heavenly 
Father, to instruct and direct me in this important movement ; teach me 
in this trying situation of my poor son." 



20 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

He was now seventeen years old. lo was indeed a lijie for 
the deepest parental solicitude. Were all those hopes of minis- 
terial usefuhiess to be blasted ? were all those consecrations, aU 
those prayers and all those entreaties to be worthless ? was 
that father to sit still and see his son laboring and toiling under 
the horrible yoke of the infernal one and wretchedly choosing 
the things of this world through the dominion of sin and un- 
belief in his soul ? It could not be ! And now light arose in 
the darkness, Christian prudence demanded that these asso- 
ciations which, though not sinful, were unfavorable to piety, 
should be sundered, and a most inviting prospect opened 
before them. 

Rev. Dr. John M. Mason, a ripe scholar and the most elo- 
quent pulpit orator of his country, and perhaps of his age^ 
had been called to preside over Dickinson College at Car- 
lisle, Pa. The ficulty was small, but could scarcely have 
been more perfect, consisting of Prof. Vethake, a thorough 
mathematician, and Dr. Alexander McClelland, who as an 
educator of youth was without a parallel. This institution 
so admirably furnished, presented great attractions to the 
young and opened a door of hope to the praying father. 
Dr. Mason had long been a pastor and friend of Mr. Bethune's 
family, and Mr. Duffield, the son-in-law, was now pastor of 
the Presbyterian Church at Carlisle. In September 1822, 
young Bethune and his companion Williams, entered this 
college to complete the studies of the senior year, a change 
which in the providence of God proved of the greatest im- 
portance to his eternal Vv'elfare. Directly after his arrival, 
we find him speaking of the change with gratification. The 
professors at Columbia College were not popular with stu- 
dents, and we conclude that there had been quite an exodus 
from his class, part going to Carlisle and others to Yale. We 
find him writing of his new associations with pleasure, and 



TURNING TO GOD. 21 

giving the liighest praise to Dr. McClelland and his lectures. 
Of Dr. Mason, however, he says : " I was too young to know 
him in his palmy days of strength and power. I did not 
come closely under his influence until 1822, which was some 
years after the shock which affected irreparably his mighty 
intellect:" although he speaks of Dr. Mason's "profound 
and elegant erudition," displayed in " his Comments on the 
Art of Poetry, by Horace, and the Treatise on the Sublime, 
by Longinus." We have no account of his standing at col- 
lege, although we find him at once engaged in the Belles 
Lettres Society. At this time his father wrote to him as to 
a warm fiiend of Summerfield, who would take an interest in 
his health which was now rapidly failing, and speaks of young 
Willett who was one of Summerfield's converts and a great 
delight to his heart, seeing that, when he was dead, Willett 
could preach. He takes occasion to excite his pride in sus- 
taining the credit of the college ; hinting that there had 
been disorders of late and that this report had done much 
harm to its prospects. He concludes with an appeal on 
the great topic: 

" I left you with strong emotions. Oh, that I could see you safe ■R'itliin 
the covenant. The eternal God is thy refuge. Can you choose a better ? 
The contest is for heaven. You must begin the inward conflict, the 
battle with yourself, sooner or later, or your soul is lost forever ! ! ! 
Begin at once. Ask the Lord for a new heart. Be not cheated out of 
your soul by a thoughtless impetuosity that gives way to outward temp- 
tations. Rouse, my son, and put a heavenly courage on. A crown of 
glory is the prize. Eternity against Time, holiness against pollution. 
Linger not, the Lord calls. Let your soul obey." 

He had been located at Carlisle only a little more than a 
month when God visited the college in a very solemn man- 
ner by the death of one of their young companions, James H. 
Mason, the son of the President, and a very promising young 



22 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

man of great piety of character, who was carried off by typhus 
fever. The family were already in mourning from the recent 
death of his sister, Mrs. Yan Yechten, and this second blow 
brought desolation indeed. Dr. Mason entertained a strong 
j^rejudice against funeral services, on the ground that they 
were apt to become occasions for eulogizing the dead. Upon 
this occasion, Mr. IMcCartee, who for the time supplied the 
pulpit of Mr. Duffield, was requested to beg that an address 
should be made at the grave for the sake of the young men 
in the College. He did so. Dr. Mason replied, " No, these 
things are so often abused." As the young men who served 
as pall-bearers lifted the coffin, the afflicted father exclaimed 
in solemn tones, v/hich those who were present can never 
forget, " Young men, tread lightly! ye bear a temple of the 
Holy Ghost," then overcome by his feelings, he dropped 
his head upon his friend's shoulder and said, " Dear McCartee, 
say something which God may bless to his young friends." 
The scene in the graveyard is described as one of deep im- 
pressiveness. There was the grand old patriarch bowed to the 
ground under the weight of sorrow, with the youth of the col- 
lege who felt that a brother had been stricken, and round 
about were mourning relatives and sympathizing towns- 
people. Mr. McCartee, who had a warm heart and whom sud- 
den emotion would often raise to the highest eloquence, 
spoke as if by inspiration a lesson suited to the occasion ; 
many people remarked that they had never seen such a 
graveyard, and all seemed in tears and many in agony. Tlie 
address was wonderfully blessed of God. A revival power- 
ful and precious in its fruits began in the college and town. 
In this revival young Bethune, had a share, but it may be 
imagined that such a strong and earnest nature as his would 
not j^ield without a struggle. While vice had not posses- 
sion of him, yet the claims of pride and affection bound him 



TURNING TO GOD. 23 

to the world and he had undergone a hardening process, 
when resisting for years all the calls of Divine grace. Sel- 
dom had a young man been so surrounded with holy influ- 
ences or resisted so many loving entreaties. Aware that 
from his earliest infancy he had been dedicated to the Lord, 
early taught to pray and love Jesus ; on every proper occa- 
sion addressed upon the subject by father and mother ; taken 
to hear the most eloquent preachers, addressed privately by 
Summerfield, Ward, young Edward Kirk, and others; again 
and again laid upon the bed of sickness, to give space for re- 
flection ; yet he had been able to resist all the strivings of the 
spirit, and although young in years, yet by custom he had be- 
come very hardened in his heart, and it was not without a 
fierce contest that the rebellious nature could be conquered 
even by the Saviour's love. But the history of an event so 
important in our memoir can be best gathered from anxious 
eye witnesses, Mrs. Bethune and Mr. Duffield : 

" Our dear son," says his mother, "had been three years at Columbia 
College, N. Y. We placed him there, because he could still reside under 
the parental roof, and be under our oAm eye ; that he might have a suit- 
able companion, we educated a young man -vrith him, and we fondly 
hoped that the Lord would accept the dedication of our son, which we 
had made to him in baptism, and fit him to serve him in the gospel minis- 
try. Every afiiiction He visited him with, (and he has been often laid on 
the bed of sickness,) we hoped was the means to bring him home to him- 
self, and although he often seemed serious and alarmed at the thoughts 
of death, yet whenever he got well he became as thoughtless as ever. 
"When the college at Carlisle Avas revived, and our dear friend. Dr. 
Mason became its principal, our son and several other students of Colum- 
bia College became anxious to spend their last year of study under his 
care. "We felt almost afraid to part with our son, yet seeing his grea« 
desire to go, and knowing that he would be under the kind and watchful 
eye of his dear brother Duffield, Ave consented. Little did we think of 
the blessing God was preparing for us in his providence, by directing the 
dear youth to this step. He entered upon study in September, 1822. I 



24 MEMOIR OF GEO. AV. BETHUNE, D. D. 

followed in October, and Mr. Mc Cartee arrived in Carlisle on the fifteenth 
of November, when James Hall Mason, son of our dear friends Dr. and 
Mrs. Mason, lay at the point of death in a bilious fever. Mr. Duffield, 
being obliged to administer the communion to a vacant congregation, was 
necessarily absent. Mr. Mc Cartee providentially arrived to administer 
consolation to our aflBicted friends. James was delirious during the 
whole of his illness, but his conversation, although incoherent, showed 
that his mind dwelt on serious tilings. To Mr. Duffield, who sat up 
with him one night, he said, ' If you knew what a sinner I have been, you 
would not be so kind to me. I once thought that I had experienced the 
love of God shed abroad in my heart, and endeavoured to walk in the 
right way, but when I became a professor, I thought I must be a gentle- 
man, and turned aside from the right way.' The morning of his death 
reason seemed to return, he knew those around him and uttered plainly 
these words, ' My son give me thy heart.' He departed about one, P. M., 
Saturday, the 16th. Mr. McCartee did not come out to dinner, and ray 
son George, who never would believe that James would die, was fretting 
and fuming because he could not get his dinner and go out riding on 
horseback. I was shocked at his seeming indifference, and told him I 
was sure that James was dying, and that was what detained Mr. Mc Cartee. 
He ate his dinner and started for town. I went to my knees to plead for 
my poor boy, begging the Lord, for his name's sake, to have compassion 
on the poor youth whom nothing seemed to affect. I felt wretched, and 
said to his sister, that I deeply regretted we had let him come to Carlisle, 
he showed such violence of temper, and so much self-sufficiency that I 
trembled for the time when I should leave him from under parental 
authority. ' Lord help me,' was my cry. I had no comfort but trusting 
in a sovereign God. The youth seemed to scorn my advice, and would 
none of my reproof. God only could change his heart. I often told him 
that I never expected to see him curb his temper, till he began to pray. 
He seemed sorry after he had been in a passion, but for the merest trifle 
would again give way to his temper. When he returned in the evening, 
I asked him * What he thought of himself, to be so concerned about his 
dinner, when his friend was passing from time to eternity ? ' He said 
* Oh mother, don't talk about dinner, when poor James Mason is dead.' 
I endeavoured to improve this dispensation to him. He seemed to feel 
deeply ; but it was only liis sorrow for liis friend that made him weep." 

We continue the narrative as given by Mr. Duffield : 



TUHNlIsG TO GOD. 25 

"The solemn scene at the interment of IMr. Duncan left upon the 
minds of many an apparently greater seriousness and attention to the 
means of grace than had tcfore been observed. The communion season 
which followed was unusually solemn. Several of the young men in the 
college were very deeply impressed by the services of that day, and 
one or two sought for Christian instruction. The death of poor James 
Mason struck a peculiar awe upon the youth in college. Brother Me Car- 
tee's address at the grave was remarkably owned, and the hearts of many 
quaked at the thought of death. On the following Tuesday, eight of the 
students met with us under deep and anxious concern about the state of 
their soul-i. The number Avas increased to fourteen on Thursday after, 
of every one of whom we now entertain hopes. There are yet four or five 
more, deeply impressed, knov>m to be so, but hoAv many more it is impos- 
sible to conjecture. The church was crowded yesterday, and the audience 
as solemn as the grave. I never saw in any place such deep and fixed 
attention, and such evident struggling with feeling. What may be the 
present extent of the impression we know not, but that it is not conSned 
to the college, the appearance of the congregation yesterday showed. I 
have no doubt that the Lord has commenced a good and gracious work 
among us, which will only be stopped by the unbelief and stumbling stocks 
which Christian professors may cast in the way. 

The change in my dear brother George has filled our house with songs 
of triumpli and praise. I know how anxiously you watched and prayed 
for him, so that anytliing relative to the great change will be peculiarly 
interesting. The Lord is a Sovereign, and he acts in such a sovereign 
manner, as to laugh all our wisdom to scorn. I tliink you will feel as 
we all do, that He was determined to let us see that it was only and alto- 
gether His own work. On Monday last, it was whispered among the pious 
students that there were several of their fellow collcgiates distressed in 
their minds. On Tuesday, an invitation was given to brother McC. and 
myself to meet with them. George heard of it that day, and that Mr. 
Codwise was among the number of inquirers. He wrote a note to him, 
desiring him to come out here, but received a reply that he could not 
in consequence of the perturljed state of his mind. Vic met that even- 
ing and found that dear youth among the number and most deeply af- 
fected. Samuel McCoskiy also was there, but he had obtained a hope. 
All George's friends were cither there or reported to be deeply impressed. 
On our return home we bcr^an to state that wc had seen some of the 



26 MEMOIR OF GEO. AV. EETIIUXE, D. D. 

young men, and detailed their exercises, i^articularly of Codwise arA 
McCoskry, and afterwards had family worship; when brother McC;, 
Vv'illiam, and myself left the chamber for tiie parlor. *"IIis mother writes, 
*I felt confounded. I ought to have rejoiced, but I could not. I-ly 
eon is not amongst them,' burst from my lips ; ' nothing seems to affect him/ 

" I asked him," says Mr. Dufndd, "if he had heard that so many of his 
young friends Avere inquiring. He seemed surprised, and got almost 
angry, said. How could it be? lie had seen them witliin a day or two, 
and they were not serious then. I told him God was not lil^e man. 
lie could convince and convert in a short time. His great concern was, 
lest his dear friends should not know what they were doing, and by and 
by when the impression wore off, they would be branded as backsliders. 
He left his sister's room, and coming down to the pa,rlour, walked in great 
agitation, accusing us of being instrumental in promoting religious cal- 
umny, of endangering the reputation of his friends, and manifested great 
warmth and violence of feeling. The first thing tliat was said, which ax>- 
peared to .calm him was, tha.t we were as tenacious of the reputation of 
Codwise as he was, and loved him dearly. He then stated more calmly 
his own opinion upon the nature of their excited feelings, and said ho 
thought it strange that a change should have taken place in his friends 
and he not know it ; that it should be done so speedily, and that they 
should not acquaint him with it, from Avhom they had never concealed 
anything. He protested however, that he could not be duped, and that 
no man should know the state of his mind, until it had undergone a thor- 
ough change. Yet, in five minutes alter, so rapidly did he cool down, 
that he told us he would rejoice if his friends were changed indeed, and 
that as for himself, he would do anything that might change his heart. 
He saw liimself to be left alone and forsaken by his friends, and resolved 
to see them the next day and hear it from themselves before he could bs^ 
satisfied. 

"'I am all alone, what shall I do?' was his cry that night before he 
went to bed. I pressed him to pray, he said ' he could not.' I warned 
him now, while the Spirit was striving with him, that it would be danger- 
ous not to attempt it. It was late at niglit ; he hung to us, felt loth to 
part, and dropped a tear as I bid him good-night and begged of him to 
pray before he went to bed. I thought it prudent to let liis own mind 
pursue its reflections vmtil he should see Codwise and McCoskry.* 

*Mr. Hamilton Codv/ise and Bishop LIcCoskry of tiie Episcopal cliurcli in ilielilsan. 



TURNING TO GOD. 27 

On Wednesday they came to Mr. Duffieli's study, who begged them to 
deal faithfully with George when he should call upon them that evening. 
He knew that they were with the minister but took no notice of them. 
His mother could discover notliing more than common in him, but was 
pleased to hear him say that he would go to lecture that evening, if Mr. 
]\IcC. would make the first prayer. When he returned from college he 
looked solemn. In the evening he saw liis friends, and went with them to 
lecture. He returned directly home, but said little ; told his companion, 
Williams, ♦ that he believed every one of his friends and acquaintances 
were either Christians or seriously exercised, and that he could not find 
one, if he was so disposed, to carry on and sport witli as before.' His 
mother mentioned that she had written to his father of the interest, but 
had given no names. He thanked her and said, 'It will not be secret 
long.' She asked ' If he thought them sincere.' * Oh yes.' ' Don't they 
want you to go with them? ' His heart was too full to answer. When 
his brothers and Williams returned from lecture they went straight to the 
study, and I heard them ^Trestling in prayer together. George seemed 
very solemn at family worship, but his mother tliought it was only be- 
cause others were so. The next morning he was still solemn and tender, 
and would allow himself to be spoken to, though none said anything to 
him but his mother, and that but little. He took no supper the evening 
before, nor did he breakfast the next morning. That day, Thursday, he 
again saw Codwise and McCoskry, and they were faithful to him. He 
did not come home till after dinner, then refused to eat. He had been 
weeping and went to his own room much agitated. His mother followed to 
restore his Bible and saw him sitting with a countenance like a con- 
demned criminal. He remained by himself till near five o'clock when 
he had to attend college prayers. IMcCartee saw iiun wandering alone, 
and wanted him to go and drink tea at Prof. McClellan's ; he declined. 
He then begged him to go to the Doctor's (Mason), but he still refused. 
' That evening,' Mr. DulSeld says, * I was surprised to find him at 
the place appointed for meeting anxious x-ersons. I addressed 
myself to him, when he fell into my arms and poured forth 
torrents of tears. His mind was pressed down with anxiety, but frse 
from terror. After conversing with him in a smothered tone some time, 
it appeared as if a gleam of hope darted across his mind. I stated the 
numerous encouragements that he had to seek the God of Jacob. His 
fv^elings gushed forth in an exr.ression of confidence, though but faint, 



28 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUXE, D. D. 

and it thrilled as with an electric shock through the whole roum. The 
tempest of his mind, he said, had been somewhat lulled to rest. We 
walked home together, talking about his views and feelings all the way, 
and when we came to the door, I proposed that we should quickly have 
worship and retire to rest, and that he should occupy my study. lie 
told me that he had met a passage in Joel 2 : 12, 13, which encouraged 
him, and he was determined to seek till he got the blessing. As late as 
one o'clock that night we heard him wrestling over our heads. As he 
lifted his voice in prayer, that passage crossed my mind, and I felt a con- 
fidence that he would not seek in vain, ' Surely thou hast not said unto 
the seed of Jacob, seek ye my face in vain.' 

All hearts were deeply engaged for him, and he had been made the 
subject of special prayer, the evening before, by the serious young men in 
college. The next morning, Friday, he still continued solemn, and 
weeping frequently. His mother pressed his dear face to her bosom 
and asked, 'If he felt no better.' He answered 'Not much better.' 
'What is the difficulty?' 'He feared that he would not be accepted.' 
She told him she expected that would be the case. He had resisted the 
Spirit on former occasions, and now the Lord was trying bim; but she 
encouraged him to persevere, assuring liim of victory. 

He ate no breakfast and passed to college. Having now been without 
food for nearly two days, he was persuaded to take a little nourishment. 
Immediately after he opened the Bible and pointed, says Mr. Duffieid, 
to the passage in Joel wliich encouraged him, and in a low tone began to 
converse with me about his feelings. I turned up several different pas- 
sages in the Scriptures, but particularly Isa. 43 : 22-26. I observed, 
these charges Go<l makes against you ; this is your character, but look 
at the grace, v. 25. Behold your duty and privilege, v. 28. A shower 
of tears fell instantly, and wetting his Bible soiled the page. Precious 
memorial ! I asked him to retire to my study. For an hour we con- 
versed about his exercises, until being crowded down with evidences in 
his favour, he could no longer doubt the work of God. I led him to the 
throne of grace, and poured out my heart in thankfulness to God. His 
heart seemed ready to break. As I rose from my knees I told liim of 
necessary business, and though it was painful to my feelings to leave 
him, yet I must go. He then caught me by the hand and said, ' Oh no, 
my dear brother George, you must not go till I, too, return thanks to 
God.' He then bowed and prayed, and his heart was led forth in the 



TURNING TO GOD. 29 

strongest and most vivid exercises of faith. * Thou wilt hear me, O 
God, when I cry unto thee. Thou hast said, Ask and ye shall receive. 
Lord, I have done so and I claim thy promise. Thou hast the price of 
my soul, the blood of thy Son, and thou delightest in judgment over 
mercy. It is thy darling attribute, for before mercy could be manifested, 
justice must be satisfied. I therefore claim the pardon of my sins, not 
for mine own sake, but for the sake of thy dear Son.' 

Such were some of his expressions of fsiith. He continued in the same 
strain for some time, and then made a full dedication of himself to God, 
prayed to be furnished with the armor of God, to be perfected, strength- 
ened, stablished ; to be made a devoted servant of Christ ; to be em- 
ployed and made eminently successful in winning souls to Christ ; to be 
enabled to endure all the fatigue and toils of the way and receive, at 
last, a crown of glory. His heart too, was earnest in prayer, for the 
work of God among us, for the conversion of sinners ; especially that 
God would bless brother McC. and myself, for the work to which we had 
been called, and make us successful and reward us richly for our labours 
of love. One of his expressions of faith struck me with great force. He 
addressed God as * the God of liis father, the God of his mother, the God 
of his sisters, the God of his brothers, the God of all his friends, and 
claimed him as his own God and Redeemer.' His prayer carried with it 
to my mind the most overpowering evidence of being wrought in his 
heart by the Spirit of God. When we rose from our knees, we could 
neither of us speak, but fell into one another's arms and embraced as 
hroiliers in Christ. It seemed as if we could not part. Oh, it was a 
moment of exquisite joy. Heaven let fall upon us some of its own 
bliss, and our hearts exulted in the Lord our God. From that time, he 
has manifested the most striking change. It is literally true, ' old things 
have passed away and all things have become new.' Who can refuse to 
give all the glory to God, and acknowledge liis work.'' 

Thus terminated a glorious victory of Almighty grace. 
Mr. DufiSeld's house had been named " Happy Retreat '^ 
and it was now happy indeed. He hastened to Mrs. Bethune's 
room, his face bathed in tears of joy and cried, " Oh ! dear 
mother, George is a new-born soul." Angels carried 
the good news to heaven on the 22d November, 1822. 



30 BIEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUXE, D. D. 

It is impossible to describe the emotions which filled those 
praying and anxious, though long baffled and disappointed, 
yet never wearied nor hopeless, and now successful parents. 
Mrs. Bethune writes : 

"And no-w O Lord, what can we, his parents, say. For thy ser- 
vants' sake, and accordmg to thine own heart hast thou done all this 
greatness in making known all these great tilings. O Lord God, 
there is none like unto thee, neither is there any God beside thee, ac- 
cording to all that we have heard with our ears. And what one natio7i 
in the earth is like thy people, like Israel whom God went to redeem to 
be his own people. And now, O Lord God, let the thing that thou hast 
spoken concerning thy servants and concerning their house, be estab- 
lished forever, and do as thou hast said. Now, therefore, let it please 
thee to bless the house of thy servants that it may be before thee forever, 
for thou blessest, O Lord, and it shall be blessed forever. Amen and 
Amen." 

A story has been current amongst Dr. Bethune's friends, 
that this interesting event occurred while both his parents 
were absent from him, and that they were engaged in be- 
moaning his hopeless condition and their unanswered prayers, 
when the postman's knock was heard, bringing the joyful 
news of his conversion. The above narrative will show that 
it has no foundation in truth, as his mother was all the time 
at Carlisle, an attentive and careful observer of her son's 
progress. Neither was his father at all despondent, but 
with that wise forecast of faith which is often so remarkable, 
thus wrote on September 29 : " My mind has been exer- 
cised for the salvation of my dear son. At times I feel such 
nearness to the throne of grace with this petition, and such 
an assurance of hope, that it would seem as if the blessing 
were nigh at hand." Again, on November 25, when he has 
received the news of young Mason's death and that there is 
a little religious interest,and while his whole heart is en- 
gaged that his son may be a partaker of the hoped-for 
grace, he records : 



TUFiNING TO GOD. 31 

" I have had of late, at times, amid all my fears for 
George, some sweet and secret intimations of expected 
mercy from my gracious God." And thus he was encour- 
aged to plead more closely, more Lelievingiy, more perse- 
veringly, and more fervently that a new heart might be 
given. 

The new convert, having obtained a calmer state, penned 
the following to his father : — 

"Carlisle, Nov. 2G, 1822. 
It was my intention to have written ycu sooner, Lut the duties which 
devolved upon me at the death of my dear friend, James Mason, and 
subsequently to that, the anxiety I felt to attain to that state in which I 
could meet death with resignation and hope, have so occupied my time 
and disturbed my mind that I could not bring my thoughts sufficiently 
together. But now, having, I trust, found a sure foothold of faith in the 
blood of my Saviour, and having obtained the consequent joy and peace 
cf mind, I feel as if it was my duty to write you, not only as a father in 
the fiesh, but as one who is a joint heir with me in the salvation of 
Christ. You will no doubt wish to knoAV what occasioned the thought- 
less and wicked son you left, to have turned his thoughts on such sub- 
jects. I will give you an account of its beginning and progress. On 
Saturday, James Mason died. In the evening we met in the Belles 
Lettres Hall to form some resolutions as a tribute of respect to his 
memory. Then I felt sad and solemn at our loss. On Sabbath morn- 
ing, McCartee preached an excellent sermon, but it reached not my 
hard heart, though bowed down, as it were, with grief. Sabbath after- 
noon, we followed him to his long home, and in the graveyard, though 
sobbing and weeping, I felt not the address which the soIem.n scene pre- 
sented to my mind. Monday passed as usual, and Tuesday, until the 
evening when brother George and McC. came home and told me that 
Codwise, McCoskry, Cahoone, Gregg, A. Labagh, Samuel Boyd, and 
some others were seeking the way to salvation. First, I felt mad that 
they should be so foolish, as I thought. But it gave way to a deeper 
feeling of wonder, and then my love to Codwise made me think he must 
be sincere. And that night found me, for the first time of my life, as I 
can recollect, praying fervently. I fc4t as if my friends were going, and 



82 TvlEMOIR OF GEO. V: , BETIIUXE, D. D. 

that I could not and shor.ld rxot stay beliind. The next daj' I bridled my 
feelings until evening, -when I v/ent to lecture, and after lecture Codwise 
walked with me and advised, and that night again found me earnestly 
engaged for the salvation of my soul. Thursday evening, I went to the 
room v.^iiere the inquirers mct> and I went out lighter and seemingly 
more happy than when I entered. That night I wrestled hard, and said 
that I would wrestle like Jacob until the break of day, and that God 
should not go until he blessed me. But ah ! I became fatigued, and went 
to sleep. 33ut God did not forget his part of the engagement, he did bless 
rae. On Friday evening I was rejoicing in the love of the Son of God. 
Oh, how dear does that blood appear to me now, wliich I have so often 
trampled under foot. It seems as if I would sufier anything to promote 
the glory of Christ's Idngdom, and the interests of his church. It seems 
to m.e that the four years which must intervene before I can proclaim 
that gospel to sinners wliich has saved my soul, is a very long timxO. 
Temptations afSict me, doubts still harass me, but the love of Christ, 
like the sun among clouds, disperses all the darkness. I think I can rely 
firmly and steadfastly for salvation on tlie Saviour's atonement. I be- 
lieve, I can never be cast out. His promises are very comfortable, es- 
pecially those which speak of God's being the God of his people's chil- 
dren. The verse, however, wliich ga^ve the most comfort in my da,rkest 
hours, is in the second chapter of Joel. 'Turn unto me with all your 
heart,' &c. I complied with the letter and spirit, I trust, and hoped God 
would do liis part, and I was not deceived. He received me into his 
fold and nursed me, weak and trembling, in his arms. And I trust he 
will keep me in his fold, and if I should stray, that he Avill pursue me 
and constrain me to come back. Pray for me, my dear father, that I 
enter not into temptation, and if the devil should tempt, that I say to 
him, ' Get tliee behind me.' Lindsey is, I hope, coming out clear and 
sure. Codwise and McCoskry like old Christians, Cahoone hoping and 
comforted, and your own son rejoicing with fear. 

Your son and brother I trust, in Christ, 

Geo. TV. Betuune." 

An interesting coincidence was, that about the same time 
Miss Mary Williams, to whom during- the last summer, 
lie had frequentl}^ read the Word of God when she lay upon 
a bed of sickness, gave her heart to God and made public 



TURNING TO GOD. 33 

confession of faith. This occurred without any concert of 
action between them, and was not discovered till years 
later. 

His father makes this grateful comment : 

"Thus the dear youth who was dedicated by his parents to the sacred 
office, in humble faith in God's promise and power, at the season of his 
natural birth, was enabled to dedicate himself also, at the hour of his 
spiritual birth. Amazing grace ! unmerited goodness ! Blessed word 
on which our blessed God has caused us to hope. He is faithful that 
promised. He also will do it. Thine be all the glory. Amen ! " 

Indeed it was an occasion of thanksgiving to many ; 
the youth had a great power of attaching friends, and 
letters came from every quarter rejoicing over his happiness. 
The Rev. Dr. McCauley informed his mother that her son had 
often been a subject of prayer with him, and she writes : 
"■ Bacon, Ward, Sommerfield, Romeyn,* Caldwell, your dear 
grandmother, and still dearer father, all that praying breath 
spent for you ; it will be difficult for you to tell who is your 
spiritual father, so many have been interested in you." 

It will be seen that his warm, grateful nature was burning 
with desire to carry out his father's dedication and do some- 
thing for Jesus, and that it was a great trial that years of 
preparation were demanded before he could proclaim the 
riches of Christ. As far as he had opportunity he commenced 
to plead for his Saviour, addressing some of his old compan- 
ions at Columbia College. His epistles called forth a remon- 
strance from his friend. Smith P^'^ne, whose heart had ex- 
perienced a change about the same time, but who thought 
that Bethune acted with indiscretion. Here the young pro- 
fessor finds himself beset by different religious theories in 
the person of his young friends, Pyne and Kirk. Pyne 

* The family during his minority attended tjie Cburch under the care of Dr. J. B. 
Romeyn, in Cedar Street. 



34 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETIIUNE, D. D. 

considers it obtrusive thus to address his friends, asking them 
to turn from their evil ways. He puts him on his guard, 
and warns Bethune against enthusiasm. He does not 
mean that elevated love of God which every true Christian 
feels, but that impatience of human frailty and exclusive at- 
tention to particulars which degenerates into fanaticism. 
" Nothing,^^ he says, " is more attractive than unaffected and 
unobtrusive piety, nothing more repulsive than a gloomj^, 
pragmatical spirit which would deprive man of the innocent 
enjoyments with which God has surrounded him. For my part 
I never enjoj^ed society, conversation, plays and parties so 
much as I do now, but novv^ I take them all in moderation. I 
surfeited myself formerly, I made them my first object, now 
merely as occasional relaxations from more weighty pursuits." 
Mr. Kirk writes, '' Be faithful to the souls of sinners. Kemem- 
ber the pit from whence you were digged ; all sinners are as 
you once were, they need your prayers and your warnings. 
It is in the performance of this duty I have found the most 
encouragement. There has been a reaction upon my soul. 
You have entered upon a new life ; your companions, your 
pursuits, and your amusements are all changed. The Chris- 
tian should always have his taste elevated so far above the 
beggarly elements of the world that they will be as bitter 
herbs in his mouth ;'' and then adds severe views of Chris- 
tian duty. Thus at the commencement of his religious life were 
presented the two extreme views of practice, from friends 
equally attached and sincere. It was his duty to choose 
that part, to which he adhered through life, the happy mean. 
He could not be conformed to the world, neither could his 
Christianity assume the form of asceticism. 

It is fair to state that both friends were equall}^ rejoiced 
at his religious change Vvhile each offered different views of 



TUKNING TO GOD. dO 

practice. But wliatever might be exterior influences, he went 
steadily on in tlie course of Christian duty. His sister 
wrote, " Dear George keeps very steady ; we hear no more 
of ' Old King Cole ; ' but last night he was singing ' what 
think ye of Christ ! ' His father, whom he visited during 
the holidays, says : 

"He has dehghted the hearts of his dear mother and myself by tl-e 
solemnity, devotion and sincerity of his demeanor. He manifests in- 
deed the power of our God in the new creation of his soul. Last evening 
we had a meeting of several parents of sons awakened at Carlisle to 
declare unitedly one thanksgiving to the Lord, and to supplicate his 
continued grace. George Bethune, Samuel Boyd, Jr, and George Lind- 
say Campbell were present, tliree youthful representatives of the con- 
verts at Carlisle. On being questioned, they acknowledged the happi- 
ness they enjoyed by their change of state, and in the privilege of pouring 
out their hearts to God in prayer, that Christ was precious to their souls." 

Again. *' Yesterday morning our beloved son left us. Delightful in- 
deed was his visit. Everybody in the house remarked the happy change 
he has undergone ; no anxiety now about food or dress, no fretfalncss, 
no empty wishes, no murmurings, no vain boastings, all seemed joy and 
peace in believing, his soul thirsting for the love of God." 

^'He was steadily attendant on prayer-meetings, and though 
so young' a Christian, he was so solicited to pray as to make 
the concluding prayer at Mr. Morse's school-room at the 
Thursday evening meeting. It is said to have been simple, fer- 
vent and unaffected. It produced much feeling and interest, 
being so manifest a proof of the power of God in turning a 
heart of stone to a heart of prayer. I was not present, or I 
would probably have prevented his being called upon to 
pray.'' 

'' Your conduct," said his mother, " I have reason to be- 
lieve was blessed to all under our roof, even poor Eichard 
has never been absent from worship since." Thus went on 



36 MEMOIR OF GEO. V,\ BETHU^'E, D. D. 

the 3'oung convert, his heart all alive in the Lord's service, 
instant in prayer, seeking his young companions, his room me- 
lodious with psalms and spiritual songs, and gentle and loving 
towards all. He followed his mother's advice! " I do not say 
you ought not to be cheerful, nay, you may even indulge in 
a little fun, provided you do not descend to buffooner}^ or 
romping.'' He was a cheerful, and yet an earnest Chris- 
tian. About this time he published in the Religious Miscel- 
lany the following expression of his faith and love, not so 
bad for a lad of eighteen : — 

Full many a star of purest light 

Beams on the midnight wanderer's sight, 

V.l'ien -winter howls not through the air 

Nor tempests veil them with despair. 

But oh ! there is a brighter gem. 

The lovely star of Bethlehem ; 

In vain the storm winds wildly roll, 

Its heavenly light vnll cheer my soul, 

Will pierce the veil of deep despair, 

And bid me trust my Pilot's care. 

Eull many a Sower of beauty blooms 
And fills the air with sweet perfumes, 
And smiles upon us as we stray 
Along our devious, doubtful way, 
But when the sunbeams scorch our plain 
They wither ne'er to bloom again ; 
But vain the beauties these disclose 
To those which sliiue on Sharon's rose ; 
It blooms, though blasting sunbeams glow 
Or winter sheds Ms fieecy snow, 
And cheers the Aveary pilgrim's eye 
While other flowers in darkness lie. 

When pale affliction's fainting child 
In sadness roams the desert wild, 



TUIINING TO GOD. 37 

"When thirsts have bound his parched tongue, 
And e'en forbade tlie cheering song, 
With joy he views the fountain flow. 
Whoso waters can assuage his woe. 
But summer's heat, with scorching beam, 
May dry the waters of the stream ; 
And thus the Pilgrim's anxious eye 
rinds but the channel dark and dry. 

But there 's a fountain pure and bright 
Which always flows in living light. 
Which, draAvn from Jesus' blessed veins. 
Can quench our thirst and cleanse our stains. 
Yes, Saviour ! in thyself, divine. 
These heavenly beauties, graces, sliine. 
Thou art our staff, our help, our joy, 
Our hope, which time can ne 'er destroy. 
May I within thy covenant dwell 
Forever, great Immanuel ! 

JUBAT.. 

*' Amen ! my beloved son," responds his rejoicing father, but tiien he 
acts the critic, " I like Jubal very well. Like yourself, however, I tliink 
he has now and then a line or two needlessly long for the other lines, 
which, unless read with ' a quickstep,' will mar the smoothness of the 
poetry. Tell Jubal, therefore, to adjust the chords of liis lyre more stu- 
diously, and the sweetness and strength of its sounds will be heard 
together." 

naving" become established in the faith of Jesus, and 
having given evidence of sincerity in a consistent life, he 
now proposed to make public confession, and unite with 
the Church in holy communion, which was done on the 9th 
of February, 1823, in the Presbyterian church of Carlisle, 
amidst a goodly company of new converts. On the same 
day his parents were communing at their own Zion. " No 
tongue can tell the joy of his mothers heart and mine 



38 JiEilOin or GEO. Vv'. BETIIUXE, D. D. 

on our communion Sabballi, realizing, as we did, tliatitwas 
dear George's communion Sabbath also a,t Carlisle, when 
for the first time he professed his love to the dear Re- 
deemer.'' In the college an opposition to the revival 
had grown up, and some of those who had been interested 
went back to the world. This awakened anxiety for his 
welfare, and called forth the liveliest exhortations from his 
mother. Having urged him to constant and fervent prayer, 
she adds : — 

" Eemember that many eyes will be upon you, some anxiously looking 
for the fruits of the revival at Carlisle, in your spiritual mindedness, cir- 
cumspect -Nvalk and conversation ; others will vratch for your halting ; not 
only the -world, but some professors of religion, and who I believe are 
on the foundation, but who are jealous of revivals, and say, ' Y\'e will see, if 
these young converts hold on.' Oh my beloved son, wound not the dear 
Saviour, and Cliristians, by your untender walk and conversation." 

An exhortation follows upon the extravagant use of 
money. From this, and similar advice of his father, it 
would appear that the young Christian had not yet learned 
the value of money, or did not feel the responsibility^ of 
treasuring this talent for the Lord's service. His father 
had just assumed much additional labor and care, that he 
might have the means to assist those of his family who 
were called to labor in word and doctrine. 

The remainder of his Senior Year passed without any 
event of special interest. He graduated in the ensuin.g 
summer, and the Commencement gave opportunity to in- 
dulge the muse in a poem on the '' Power of Fancy,'' an 
effort not wanting in strength or melody. Opening with its 
praises, he then depicts its sadder side, quoting Chatterton 
and his lines, " Mj^ broken Ij^re,'' and thus proceeds : — . 



TUnXIXG TO GOD. 39 

"And yet who would not be thine ardent cliild 
Fancy ! high dame, with eye and aspect wild ? 
Who would not follow thee, tho' on his youthful head 
Life's wrathful vials all tlieir vengeance shed ? 
What tho' the thorn oft overspreads thy path, 
And the rude tempest shades it with its wrath ; 
Yet there are flowers so sweet, so beautiful, 
T 'were worth an age of woe, one wreath to cull. 
What the' the world, while still it loves the swell 
Of liis wild numbers, leave the bard to dwell 
In silent loneliness, and plodding schools 
Despise the eccentric wanderer from tlieir rules ; 
He needs their friendship not, liis lip is curl'd 
In proud contempt of an ungrateful world ; 
He seeks his friends axuong the mountains high, 
And the bright jewels of the azure sky." 

His lyrical capacity was already acknowledged ; Mr. 
Kirk requests copies of his poetical effusions, as pledges of 
his future usefulness to the Cliurch of God, in aiding the 
flow of religious feeling and exalting the standard of sacred 
poetry. The Rev. Wm. Thorn of England, publishing a 
book on the Sabbath, aSxed one of Mr. G. Bethune's hj^mns 
at the end. About this time was commenced a correspondence 
with the Rev. Mr. Prust, an independent clergyman of Bris- 
tol, England, which was tho basis of a long friendship. 
During the summer he was a frequent visitor and great 
comforter to Miss Cornelia Brackenridge, a cultivated young 
person, skilful in music, who died in early life. Thus his 
father addressed him on his eighteenth birthday : 

*'I love to see you searching the Word of God, and loaning on that; it 
is the only source of wisdom, humility, comfort, reproof and establisli- 
ment of heart. I would wish my beloved son to save himself much of 
my trouble by a close examination of the Word of God, and by a firm, 
unwavering grasp of the covenant of God in early life, that he may fi.-.d 



40 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

them to be a lamp to his feet, and a light to his path. ISIy chief safety 
amidst the storms of life has been owing to my firm faith in the Word 
of God, casting myself unreservedly on its promises, and pleading them 
fervently at the throne of grace, in the name of my blessed Lord and 
Saviour. I have had many answers to prayer, which I have regarded 
with astonishment, yet not often in the time and way I had looked for 
them, but in a much better way and time, so that often the heart has, as 
it were, cried out in response to the gracious declaration of God, * O 
Israel thou hast destroyed thyself, but in me is thy help.' " 



SEMINARY. 41 



CHAPTER III. 

SEMINARY. — VISIT TO THE SOUTH. 

The Commencement of Dickinson College, while it 
brought its joys and opened its brilliant hopes, still had 
a trial. The young men, who had taken sweet counsel to- 
gether and been united so tenderly in the love of Jesus, 
were now to separate. They belonged to different denom- 
inations and would select various places for theological 
study. Mr. Cod wise, the most intimate friend of j^oung 
Bethune, was attached to the Episcopal Church, and this, 
with the added influence of Mr. Pyne and other associates 
at Columbia, would incline him in a similar direction. But 
his father's wish was law with him, and it was determined 
that he should enter the Seminary at Princeton. A season 
of relaxation from study was granted which was spent, in 
part, among the pleasant scenes at Salem, where he read 
Paley's Philosophy, Watts on the Mind, the works of Lord 
Kames, and various poets. He was much pleased with the 
Avritings of Dr. Alex. Proudfit, and purposed to make his 
Practical Godliness a frequent companion in future. These 
books had been seen before, but had never been read as they 
deserved. The student now develops and seeks to recover 
wasted opportunities. He was appointed to declaim at the 
AVashington Adelphi Porum. Later, he accompanied his 
father, whose health was impaired, on a tour through Penn- 
sylvania. Soon the time for labor returned and his father 
makes the following record : 



42 MKMOir. OF GEO. Vr. BETHUNE, D. D. 

" On the 5th of November I -svent -with ray beloved son George (early, 
frequently, and fervently devoted to the service and glory of my God), 
and five of his pious, youthful companions, in order to place them in 
the Theological Seminary at Princeton, New Jersey, where Dr. Alexan- 
der, Dr. Miller, and the Rev. Mr. Hodge are the able, faithful and pious 
teachers and professors. In a period like the present, when gaiety and 
fashionable amusements fascinate the youth of our city, my dear son 
had his share of example and temptation to plunge into these courses. 
My mind felt deep anxieties lest he should slirink from the closer studies 
of the Theological School, and the corresponding exercises of serious 
and thoughtful piety which attach to tliis manner of life. The Lord, who 
knows every heart, is my witness that all my conduct towards liim, 
according to my limited capacity and slender stock of vasdom, has been 
directed to lead him, imperceptibly by Mm, in such a way as to preserve 
him from worldly temptations, and to cherisli and keep alive in him, the 
holy impressions of love to God, and consecration to his service. The 
journey to Carlisle, undertaken with this view as to him, has liad, I 
trust, a happy effect. The scenes of his first feelings of spiritual joy 
seemed to re-animate his soul ; his communion with liis dear youthful 
companions, converts with himself to righteousness in the sweet revival 
at Carlisle, refreshed his spirit ; the solemn and awakening circumstan- 
ces of the death of so many of his acquaintances, and more especially 
the sudden decease of his lively young friend Ellen Mc Kinney, of Har- 
risburg, were calculated to make a deep impression on his warm and 
youthful feelings, and to exalt, in his view, the importance and value of 
the religion of Jesus Christ, which purifies and sanctifies enjoyment in 
this life, and insures eternal happiness in that wliich is to come. Trem- 
bling, hoping, leaning upon the divine power, kindness and faithfulness 
of my covenant. Almighty God, I went vrith my boy to the school of the 
prophets, and blessed be His glorious name, He was not unmindful of His 
promises. I was truly astonished to see with what calmness, decision 
and sobriety of mind he entered the sacred place. The chaste solemnity 
of his manner, during the many religious exercises in which we were 
engaged for the five days I stayed with liim, delighted my heart, and I 
could, at times, think that the shining of his countenance improved by 
the settled inward devotion of the heart. He seemed, when we parted, 
affected to tears by my tender care of liim, (I being the only parent who 
went to tlie spot to settle their sons in the college rooms, which were to 



SKMINAHY IJFE. 43 

be furnished for three years,) but I was most pleased with his remarks 
that he trusted, above all, in a higher than an earthly parent, to his Father 
in heaven, for all that he stood in need of for life and duty. Rich were 
my parental feelings on that occasion, and rich were his filial feelings 
also. I thank my heavenly Fatlier for this encouraging commencement, 
this first movement to lend my child to the Lord. I will praise Jehovah 
for all that is past, and praise him for all that is to come." 

His experience in tlie Seminary docs not prove very 
satisfactory. Dr. Miller's lectures are very interesting (on 
Chronology) ; and the Sunday conference is interesting and 
instructive, discussing-, What are the best means of render- 
ing our intercourse and communion profitable to each other? 
But the Ilebrevv is dull. Ilis letters to friends are full of 
lamentations over this study. One replies, Hebrew presents 
" one parallax " after another, if not in name, in nature, at 
least in one respect, difficulty ; the same report comes from 
the Episcopal Seminary. This should not be held as a proof 
of distaste for study, but is to be attributed to the imperfect 
manner in which the language was taught, very few of the 
theologians of that day being good Hebrew scholars. A 
disagreeable feature in the Seminary was an extreme cen- 
soriousness and captiousness ; and '' some of those men 
whom we understand to be quite lax and moderate abroad, 
turn out to be the most pious, consistent and devoted 
Christians among us." The mode of life was displeasing to 
one who had alwaj^s enjoyed the comforts of a refined home. 
'' Where can I, a poor desolate stranger, find a kind female 
to use a needle for me. My splendid needle and thread 
housewife, if well stocked, would be useful to me." His 
letters remind us of the scene pictured iu his address before 
the Univcrsit}^ of Pennsylvania: 



44 MEMOirw OF GEO. W. BETllUNE, D. D. 

"How different is the commons table, often ill served, from the pleas- 
ing family board with its natural courtesies and confiding interchange 
of thought ! No lady's eye overlooks them as they scramble like boors 
for the hasty meal. No woman's tidy hand has arranged their wardrobes, 
and no approving smile rewards and encourages decency of dress and 
carriage. A college student's wardrobe ! What a collection it is of toeless 
stockings, buttonless wristbands, and uncared-for rents, some mothers 
can tell who have examined the trunks they saw packed so neatly a few 
months before. A college student's room, shared perchance, with one 
to whom neatness is an unknown quality ; its littered, unscrubbed, uncar- 
peted floor; its confused and broken furniture; its close atmosphere, 
heated by a greasy stove, and redolent of tobacco ; its bed a lounging 
place by day, whose pillows have never been shaken or sheets smoothed 
by other than the college porter, who intermitted for such ministry the 
carrying of wood, or the blacking of boots ; its dim panes festooned with 
ancient cobwebs, through which the noonday sun looks yellow as through 
a London fog; it is indescribable as chaos. Wo to him whom sickness 
seizes in such an abode ! I^ind nurses he may have ; but how rough ! 
With what heavy tread and strange notions of the materia medica! 
Vainly does the fevered eye look around for mother, sister, or time-hon- 
ored servant ! Vainly does the fevered thirst crave the grateful drink 
their hands once pressed to his lips, when he was sick at home ! There 
is none to sprinkle the fragrant spirit on his brow, or after bathing his 
feet in the attempered water, to wipe them dry and wrap them warm. 
Alas ! poor youth ; he has a mother, he has sisters, he has a home, 
where kindness might have made sickness a luxury, but they have sent 
him away to suffer among strangers." 

Doubtless this picture was drawn from sad experience ; 
and in answer to complaints, his prudent father wrote : 

'♦ My hopes of the stability of your future character are strong. As 
the boy departs and the man approaches, your judgment, which I have 
generally found radically good, will become more decisive in itself, more 
operative on your outward actions, and a more steady regulator of your 
inward thoughts and temper of mind. Growth in grace will assist the 



SEMINAIiY LIFE. 45 

improvement of this excellent quality ; and secret prayer, with a practi- 
cal study of the Word of God, will soon ripen it to maturity. A steady 
exercise of a sound judgment Avill calm the feelings, subdue restlessness, 
and those constant cravings of the unsettled mind, which form its secret 
scorpion lash of irritations and restlessnesses. In moulding our own char- 
acter, the first obstacles to be overcome are our own besetting sins. 
Watch your own heart, my son, as your Avorst enemy ; learn to trace its 
windings to deceive. Eesolve to be contented to act witU judgment, 
under present inconveniences; and very soon you will find a steady 
peace, a holy triumph, with a happy consciousness you are fighting the 
good fight of faith with success, a comfort far beyond what change of sit- 
uation would afford you." 

However good the advice, the youth was never at rest 
until he had exchanged the rough fare and many annoyances 
of the Commons, for the comfort of a pleasant and respect- 
able family ; and surely no sensible man can blame him. 

Books are sought for : Jahn's Archeology, Gerard's Insti- 
tutes, Dr. Marsh's Lectures, Macknight on the Epistles, 
Stapferi Theologia. 

Jan. 1824. At the holidays he returned home and " was 
greatly improved already, by his short stay at the Seminary. 
His parents were truly delighted by his conversation." 

Having formed closer habits of study, he found it neces- 
sary to observe carefully rules of diet, living upon milk and 
vegetables and eating little meat. In the same view he took 
rapid exercise on horseback, so that far from being a fast 
liver, his habits were carefully formed to guard against the 
corpulency that v/as natural to him. 

In Feb. 1824 he had "just begun the study of Theology ; 
the studies in which Ire had been engaged were merely pre- 
paratory, and is glad in feeling that he is actually entering 
on the grand study." He was more impressed with the 



46 MEMOIR OF GT:0. W. EETIIU2sE, d. d. 

value of prayer. Speaking of the gifts of Mr. Wilberforce 
to the Seminary, he adds : — 

" What ca iDlessing Ave inherit in tlie prayers of so many good saints ! 
If the effectual fervent prayer of 'one made righteous' availeth much, 
I rejoice to hear of good people praying. Oh, that we might be more 
engaged in prayer. We cannot weary our God, why then should we 
become weary ? His arm is not shortened, why then should we fear to 
trust it? O ! for the faitii of Jacob to wrestle and prevail ! O ! for the 
faith of the apostles ! ' I know that my Redeemer livetli' cannot be so 
earnestly asserted, even in these days of light, as in tlie time of Job. — 
Well may we beg now, ' Lord teach us to pray.' I find my warmth in 
prayer increase in a ratio to the attention, with which I perform it and 
all other religious duties, and I think I can feel my warmth increase as 
I am more engaged in prayer. Prayer seems to bend God down to us 
and to elevate us to Him." 

And then in devout gratitude he makes thi:3 donation to 
his parents, praying that they might be strengthened for the 
responsible station they held in society ; praying for 
them who had so often prayed for him. His fondest 
thoughts gathered about home, he pictures the happy familj'', 
once more in the social circle, enjojdng themselves in the 
recollections of ''xiuld Lang Syne" and thinks "if that va- 
cant chair were filled, the cheerful laugh might be swelled 
still louder and Richard sent still oftener for buttered toast.'' 

About this time, the quiet of Princeton was invaded by a 
young Episcopal friend who v/as '' so high, so very high 

church, why Dr. , hanging to St. John's steeple is 

nothing to this fellow, who has got on the weathercock and 
stood on tiptoe." But while there was the closest intimacy 
between him and the young Presbyterian, heart often beat- 
ing against heart, undoubtedly theology was the occasion of 
much grave debate, and each polemic was of his own opinion 
still. 



SEMINARY LIFE. 47 

Before the year is half over an appetite for study awakens ; 
and, strang-e to tell, for the Ilebrcw. He hopes for a time 
of reviving : — 

*' The increasing earnestness of prayer, and the reviving of Christian 
graces, seem like the slight rustling before tlie storm. I feel as if I was 
better in my religious feelings than I have been. Not that I improve as 
I ought in Christian grace, but I feel more love for the duties of the 
closet ; more desire for close communion with that God from whose 
p;!ths I liave long shamefully and ungratefully wandered. The world, 
though it still has deep hold on my affections, I think I can reject with 
more {irmness than formerly. But oh ! my motlier, what a heart I 
liave ! IIow prone to wander ! So enthusiastic in literature, in music, in 
j>!itriotism, and yet so cold and so dead to Ilim v/ho should be to me, the 
chiefest among ten thousand and the one altogether lovely. When 
called to serve an earthly friend, I have been active and earnest; but 
called to follow Ilim who sticketh closer than a brother, I have sneaked 
to a distance so that it can be scarcely said whether I follow Him or not. 
0, thnt the Lord would descend and take possession of my heart. It is 
not a fit dwelling for the Lord of Hosts, so defiled with sin and evil 
thoughts ; but the blood of Jesus cleanseth from all sin. O, that he 
would cleanse it for himself, that he would root out all uncleanliness 
and help me to tear the dearest idol from my heart and give it to him 
alone. I think I feel more of sense of duty in study than formerly. I 
regarded it then as a mere worldly requirement, now I think I may be 
sovf^ing the seed of a harvest which may add to the granary of heaven, 
through the blessing of God attending my labours in the ministry. — 
Pray for me, my dear mother, pray. I need prayers. Prayers from a 
fiiithful spirit will avail much. Prayer opens heaven, the poet says. 
Oh, what a blessed privilege." 

Up to this period he may have amused himself in litera- 
ture, and have gone through the college recitations ; even his 
father complained of his indolent habits, and a young- friend 
fLincies him, " A fat laughing youth, seated in a big cushioned 
chair with feet cocked up over a rousing fire, segar in his 
mouth, and hands in the breeches pockets," the picture of 



48 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETIIUIVE, D. D. 

comfort and merry enjoyment ; but from this date there is a 
change. 

All his letters speak of pleasure in study ; he wrote, 
"during the whole of this week, not a single evening is 
without its appropriate Society ; '' and it was his con- 
stant cultivation of such reunions, that ripened his powers 
of extempore speaking. He prepared theological essays 
on one of the most difiBcult metaphysical subjects ; while 
Hebrew is still a bug-bear, it suffers from the assaults of 
violence. He says, "I never sat down to work with so 
much zest ; " and there are records of immensely hard 
days' study. He became a contributor to a monthly maga- 
zine, published in Philadelphia under the signature of 
''Orion." 

But in August, 1824, a great trial drew near him : 

*'I have been waiting with intense anxiety for news of my dear father. 
Often docs my prayer ascend to heaven for him, and often my bed is 
wakeful with my thoughts ofliim. Never did I feel him, however dear as 
he was before, so dear as now; all his kindness, patience and forbear- 
ance with me rise to ray view. Now I think I see hira as he was once, 
healthful and vigorous ; then weak and fatigued, yet always with the 
sweet smile so peculiarly his own. In my college days, I have often 
written with all the romantic fervour of youth of a father's affection and 
filial love, but now those descriptions however high wrought fall short 
of the reality, which is felt, not merely imagined. Yet what a glorious 
and soul comforting thought, ' Like as a father pitieth his children, so 
the Lord pitieth them that fear him.' How sweet to think that we are 
in his hand and that his ear is always open to our cry. But then 
tliougli these are sweet and encouraging thoughts, I feel myself apt to 
forget my God and my dut}', and almost murmur against his righteous 
judgments, and have to breathe the prayer of the sweet Milman, 

' Hear all our prayer, hear not our murmurs, Lord, 
And though our lips rebel, still make thyself adored.'" 



SEMI>'AHY LIFE. 49 

Alas I that valuable diary which has been quoted so 
often, has been closed for some months ; the father has 
written that he can do no more in correspondence than send 
the necessary money ; he has sought health and strength 
from different sources in vain, and God has determined to 
take his faithful servant to himself. Never did son have 
more reason to love and thank a parent, and seldom was 
the debt of gratitude better repaid. The father had been a 
pleasant companion ; although with him, religion was 
the chief concern, and he had aimed first of all to lead him 
to Jesus, yet he was a man of letters and paid his court to 
the Muse, so that he could sympathize in literary progress 
and the domestic conversations were adorned with tasteful 
and witty discussions. Crying, " Let me go home, let me 
go to my Saviour my race is run ; my work is done, let me 
go," his wish was granted on the IStli of Septembe]-, 1824. 
He had filled a larger sphere of usefulness than, is often al- 
loted to laymen. One who observed him in active business 
said, '' he looked all the time as serene as if he was sitting on 
down.'' Mrs. Graham wrote, " Divie Bethune stands in my 
mind, in temper, conduct and conversation, the nearest to the 
gospel standard of any man or woman I ever kuev\r as intim- 
ately. Devoted to his God, to his church, to his family, 
to all to whom he may have the opportunity of doing good, 
duty is his governing principle." Friends in England wrote 
that a sweet savor attaches to the name of Bethune. His 
dying words to his son were : " Preach the gospel, my son» 
tell dying sinners of a Saviour, mind nothing else ; it is 
all folly." Blessed be God for such an honorable, honored 
parent. How much was due to his example, his faith and 
his prayers. The following epitaph presents his son's 
ideal : 



50 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

In memory of Divie Beihune, 

BORN AT DINGWALL, ROSSSHIRE, SCOTULND, 
Died, Sept. 18, 1824, Aged, 53. 

Thirty years of which he lived in the City of New York an honorable 
merchant, a faithful citizen, a hospitable gentleman, and a de- 
vout elder of Chrisfs Church. He spent his life in 
serving God, and, for God's sake, his fellow-men. 

^'Oh thai men would praise the Lord for His goodness" 

This event brought upon him a new burden of responsibil- 
ity. The correspondents of his father desired him to car- 
ry on the business, and as it had been one of extensive repute 
and great success, every worldly inducement pointed in 
that direction. But all such solicitations he spurned, feel- 
ing bound to follow the great profession to which he had 
given himself. When urged to allow the use of his name, and 
told that his refusal might ruin the business, his answer was, 
"Though I throw away a fortune, I must obey the dying 
commands of my father.'' 

But there was one care left to him, that of his widowed 
mother, from which he did not shrink, but supported with 
all the affection of his great manly heart, and thus he as- 
sumed the task : 

" I do hope and pray that God will enable me so to conduct myself, 
that I may be a comfort and stay to my mother, and though my con- 
science tells me that I have often wounded you and roused your anxiety 
respecting me, and though I fear that the indiscretions and heedlessness 
of youth may often prove detriments to my designs, yet, it is my firmest 
and fondest resolution in a reliance on divine aid, to be indeed a son and 
a prop to my widowed mother." 



SEMINARY LIFE. 5^ 

Noble resolve, and most faithfully and lovingly was it 
kept. When the session of the Seminary began, he was at 
his post, his only regret being, that his mother was " seated 
by a lonely hearth, with none to comfort, none to console." 

Upon a visit, he became more impressed with her deso- 
late condition, and proposed to sacrifice for her comfort 
his privileges at Princeton : 

"The path of duty appears to me very dark, wliether I should stay 
here, absent from her whom it is my natural duty and still more my 
fondest desire to protect and solace, or return to her to cheer, as far as 
possible, her loneliness, at the expense of a very few advantages. Next to 
my God's, I am my mother's. If by leaving P., I should necessarily in- 
terrupt my studies and thereby delay my fitness for the responsible work 
to which I am called, or if by leaving this I should necessarily deprive 
myself of many advantages, which nowhere else could be found, the 
path of duty would be clear, and God would order things as well with 
you and better than if I were to act in direct contradiction. But the case 
is not so. In New York, I should be able to prosecute my studies with 
almost equal advantages. My access to books would be equally free 
and unlimited, for the libraries of all the clergymen would be open to 
me." 

After arguing the subject at considerable length, ingen- 
uously advocating a course which love and duty prompted, 
with characteristic generosity, he concludes by making one 
condition, that his friend Williams might be permitted to re- 
main. " I am not so selfish as to wish to deprive others of 
advantages which duty compels me to forego, or to wish 
others to choose the path which I think I am bound to 
tread." To this proposal his bereaved parent could by 
no means consent; but it affords a fine illustration of that 
filial affection which was so notable a trait of the man, 
which cheered her darkest hours, and which never fainted 



52 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

even in her days of cbildislmess, nor ceased until he had 
closed her eyes in death. 

Study was now vigorously pursued : and as evidence that 
the theological course did not distract him from former 
loves and elegant pursuits, he writes to a friend in England 
about an edition of " Valpy's Classics,'' which was expect- 
ed to reach one hundred volumes. A fellow student speaks 
of his new parish as reminding him of auld lang syne : 

*' When I sat at the doors of the cottages of my poor friends, taking a 
smoke with the old women, I have thought of No. 22, in a large stone 
building far, far away. The house was different, the company different, 
the pipe, the tobacco, all different, still the associations were agreeable. 
I am sure if I reflected upon anything with pleasure it was the recollec- 
tions of the theological smoking association of which I had the honor to 
be a member." 

He alludes to the gift of the muse bestowed upon Be- 
thune, which was confessed by all his young compeers, and 
might have reached a much higher standard had it not been 
restrained by a sense of the more serious and important 
duties set before him. 

Sensible of his advantages, there was about the young 
man a certain uppish air, which called forth the following 
rebuke from his careful parent : 

"Pardon a mother's anxiety, my beloved son. Beware of trusting 
in riches, and that vanity of heart which attends the possession of them. 
I did not like to hear you talk so much of genteeliiy. Remember the 
Scriptures, 'If any man would be great among you, let him be your 
minister.' Xot many wise, not many noble are called, &c. Condescend to 
men of low estate. "Who did the Great lledeemer choose for bis asso- 
ciates? Fishermen, tanners. Nay, was he not to appearance the son 
of a carpenter ? If any one in New York could boast of genteeliiy, it 
was your father; even the great of this world were his relations; yet 
even I, his bo3om friend, never heard him once attach any value to it. 



SKIVIIXAUY LIFE. 53 

and his first religious associcatcs were in the humblest walks in life. 
The first prayer-meeting he joined, he was tlie only merchant among 
them. A cartman, a stonecutter, a tailor, a carpenter, were the mem- 
bers ; yet I have often heard him say, that by the mouth of one of these 
men, his path of duty was made plain to him. You know how much he 
vras respected by all ranks. Nobody ever said he kept low company. 
Would you wish to become truly respectable in the eyes of the world? 
Tollow your father's example." 

He had a wise monitor. 

About this time we date an intimacy with Dr. John 0. 
Choules, afterwards the distinguished and witty Baptist 
Minister, of Newport, E. I. In some way old Mr. Bethune 
had done kindness to this young man, lately arrived from 
England, and the debt of gratitude was repaid to the son, 
with whom was maintained a cordial friendship. 

Now it pleased the Lord to send upon his widowed pa- 
rent much complication in business matters, attended with 
considerable loss of property. She meets the trial like a 
Christian, and her son " rejoices that she is enabled to 
throw herself so confidently upon Plim who is alone able to 
support. I trust that in all your distresses the Lord will 
hear you, in the day of trouble the name of the God of 
Jacob may defend you, send you help from the sanctuary, 
and strengthen thee out of Zion.'^ With such good words 
did these children of the covenant comfort each others* 
hearts. 

In February of this year there came another sorrow, in 
the death of a beloved pastor, the Rev. Dr. J. B. Romeyn. 
He died of a broken heart, from the slanders and repeated 
attacks of persons in his own congregation. In his delir- 
ium, he took a text and preached from it. " Let not your 
hearts be troubled," &c., dispensed the communion, calling 



54 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

Mr. Bethune to " take the cup," and appealed to his jKBople 
that he had been faithful to them, and was free from their 
blood. The pious family mourned over his loss, as if one 
of their own number had been stricken. Shortly after the 
young theologian desires books from the dear Doctor's li- 
brary. "If there are an}^ sets of Poole, Calvin, Jonathan 
Edwards, the Biblia Critica, Turretin, John Howe, Jeremy 
Taylor, Horslej^, Whitby, Milner's Church History ; the 
German critics, Koppe, Kuinoel, Rosenmuller, Schultens, it 
would be well to get them.'^ 

An event occurred in the summer vacation, which made 
him "the happiest mortal on the face of the earth. '^ His 
dear Mary yielded, with the sanction of her kind father, a 
return for that attachment, which, from the days of his 
boyhood, had ever bound him to her. He informs his 
mother, with the delight of an enthusiastic lover : 

**I shall leave you to draw the picture of my feelings as you please, 
satisfied that no coloring would be too rich. To find that all those gay 
dreams which brightened my boyhood, but wliich opening manhood 
viewed as too much like enchantment to be real, are now realities ; to 
be blest with the love of one so pure, so gentle, so lovely, yet so fir 
above me in prospects, and not the least to find my dear mother satis- 
fied with all, is what no thankfulness can express, no gratitude repay, 
and of which none bnt God Avho knoweth the heart can estimate the 
value. Life wears to me a new aspect ; new motives, new inducements, 
new hopes, new enjoyments present themselves on every hand." 

The prospect of this alliance gave much satisfaction to 
his remaining parent, who welcomed the young lady as her 
daughter, and as her son's first and only love : 

" Now that both of you have given your hearts to the Lover of your 
souls, and your attachment Avill be strengthened by religion, my full 
heart overflows with thankfulness to that God who has granted my 



' SEMINARY LIFE. 55 

every wish for my beloved George, ' the only son of his mother, and she 
a widovr.' I shall now close my eyes in peace ; my son and the chosen 
of Ids heart have each sought the kingdom of Christ and his righteous- 
ness, and the promise to them is, that all other blessings will be added." 

The correspondence between these young Christians often 
assumed a tone higher than that of ordinary love-mak- 
ing : 

" But why," he says, sympathizing in the continued illness of Miss 
Williams, "but why seek the sorrowful influences of memory, Avhen 
hope points cheerily onward, and like a good prophet speaks of days of 
bliss, and hours of joy. Blessed be the man whose trust is in the Lord 
his God ; and has not he, who spake as never man spake, promised to 
the believing spirit, ' Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the 
world.' Be thy promise, Man of Sorrows, Lord of Glory, our comfort, 
and may not our death, but our life, be the life of the righteous, and our 
end be like his. Blessed with the promises of God, and each other's 
love, we may challenge life to do its worst to mar our happiness. My 
desire to do something for the honor and glory of my Master, is, I believe 
and hope, true. I need not say, how much I desire the prayers of those 
who love me. Pray for my humility, yet confidence in the discharge of 
duty ; zeal, yet prudence ; tenderness, yet faithfulness in all my preach- 
ing and pastoral duties ; for, next to God and his cause, my desire is that 
I may not in any degree fail the hopes of one whose hopes will be linked 
with mine, and who must share all my misfortunes, and all my suc- 
cesses." 

This engagement soon brought with it responsibility, and 
led to an important change in his life. In the autumn, the 
health of Miss Williams began to decline, and Dr. Post 
advised that her life could only be saved by going to a 
warm climate. Who should be her escort ? The youthful 
lover could not resign the charge to another, so the con- 
sent of his professors was obtained, the theological course 
suspended in mid career ; he had been studying about two 
years ; and a sum of money which had been carefully laid 



56 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

aside by his futher for a trip to Europe, was devoted to a 
wedding tour to the West Indies. The first plan was to go 
to the South of France, but the very bad symptoms of the 
invalid compelled a more speedy change. On Nov. 4, 1825, 
the marriage was consummated, and soon the happy couple 
sailed for Havana, in the ship Berlin. 

Their groomsman, Mr. Bleecker, had been saved from 
drowning at Rockaway, by young Bethune, at the risk of 
his own life. He had been carried beyond his depth, and 
as he could not swim, was helpless. The intrepid friend 
caught him as he came up the third time, and brought him 
near the bank, when the waves dashed them on the beach. 
Bethune soon regained his powers, but it was with great 
difficulty that Bleecker was restored. 

The loss at Princeton was grievously lamented. It was 
apprehended that the Round Table would go down, and the 
Scandal Club become extinct, Mr. Green declaring himself 
unable to support it without Bethnne's aid : 

" The Professors were satisfied with the propriety of your conduct. 
Mr. Hodge said but little, though by his smiles he expressed full appro- 
bation. Dr. Alexander observed (in his own way), that the circumstan- 
ces were very pecuUar, and spoke in very flattering terms of recommen- 
dation, of your originality of mind, your readiness of thought, your tal- 
ents as a speaker and preacher. Dr. Miller very gravely observed, ' that 
by such short-sighted creatures as we are, it would be termed an unfor- 
tunate occurrence, but he thought that if placed in the same situation, 
he should not have acted otherwise, adding that, even in Cuba, one pos- 
sessing Mr. Bethune's active and inquisitive mind, might avail himself 
of many means of improvement from the opportunities of conversation 
with learned Catholic Priests, and from the facilities of access to many rare 
and valuable books. " 

Princeton could then boast of many students who have 
since become eminent. Dr. Edward N. Kirk was a resident 



AVEST INDIES. 57 

graduate, and Drs. Hutton, Dickinson, Jas. Alexander, Ers- 
Idne Mason, of New York ; Bishop Mcllvaine of Ohio ; Dr. 
Piumraer of Ya. ; Drs. T. L. Janeway, John W. Nevin of 
Pa. Havana was reached, and the jihicc described : 

" The first object which striltes the eye is a miserable looking pile, 
called the Moro Castle. It stands upon a projecting rock on the north- 
east side of the liarfcour. The long line of its fortifications continued by the 
immense fortifications of the Cabanas, with its watch-tower, its loop- 
holes and portals, give you a very tolerable idea of the castles of the 
olden time. Passing thence up the small river which forms the entrance 
of the harbour, some two or three thousand yards , you anchor in the 
harbour of St. Christopher or Havana. On every side there are moles of 
immense strength, rendering the to^vn completely inaccessible from the 
sea, by any hostile force however great. On the right is the Castel de 
la Habana, from which the place derives its name. The circumstances 
are as follows : In the year 1512, Christopher Columbus discovered the 
Island of Cuba as he was endeavoring to trace the course of the Gulf 
Stream. Landing some miles to windward, he followed the shore until 
his notice was attracted by the harbor of this now flourishing town. In 
prosecuting his journey, he was opposed by some of the Indians, who 
afler a little resistance fled until they came to a clump of wide spreading 
trees, peculiar to this island. They there met a gigantic and majestic 
female, whom they considered a supernatural being whom they rever- 
enced under the name of the Habana, and then partly by force and 
partly by stratagem, were led to form a rude treaty with Columbus, who 
in gratitude to God, celebrated mass under two of the largest trees, which 
are still standing and luxuriant, and took possession of the place in the 
name of Spain. They built a rude fort, calling it, to please the natives, 
Habana. The Spanish soldiers took possession of the country t^vo years 
after. As you pass along the quay under the battlements of the Habana, 
you are struck by the singular appearance of all around you. 

First, of the houses ; they are chiefly constructed of a crumbling 
stone, covered with a thick layer of plaster, built in the form of a quad- 
rangle, the centre of which is open, communicating by an arched gate- 
way with the street. 

Ascending a flight of stairs, you find yourself in a gallery extend- 



58 3IEM0IR OF GEO. Y*'. BETIIUNE, D. D. 

ing on every side of the quadrangle, from -which doors open to the 
several apartments. The windows are closed and barred, which with 
the massive pillars and arched doorways, seem more like prison-houses 
or castles, than peaceful domiciles. It is easy, however, to see thali 
though gloomy in appearance, at first, they are in reality the most con- 
venient that can be made. The thick walls from four to six feet through, 
the heavy tiled roof and the shaded galleries, sufficiently exclude the 
sun, while the open windows give free circulation to the air which is re- 
tained by the plaster floors. Then the singular veliicles called volantes 
call for notice. They are not unlike a large old-fashioned chaise depend- 
ing from the axis of two very liigh wheels, supported at the other ex- 
tremity by shafts, which are borne by a horse or mule, according to the 
purse or caprice of the owner. On the back is seated the Calasero, 
or driver. It is not uncommon to see three persons in the volante 
and a footman behind, drawn by one poor brute with his driver 
on his back. They are, however, very safe ; and, with the exception 
of five coaches, are the only carriages used on the Island. Another 
thing which strikes the eye of the foreigner is the number of sol- 
diers, which amounts to six or seven thousand in the city alone, which 
within the walls, contains only sixty or seventy thousand people, though 
the suburbs contain, possibly, as many more. The churches are large, 
but with the exception of the Cathedral, (containing the bones of Colum- 
bus, and really a fine building,) are huge and unshapely. The monks 
though numerous, are not so numerous as previous to the first adoption 
of the Constitution. To give you some idea of their licentious life and 
the general state of religion, I need only say, that I saw on Sunday, at 
tlie same time that high mass was performing in the Chapel, a party of 
friars at whist in one of the cells. There is also a gambling house imme- 
diately opposite the church, supported entirely by the monks." 

But the destination of the party was Matanzas, where a 
house furnished was generously oflered for their use. Here 
they set up a small establishment, taking a poor orphan, 
Miss Gerard, under their protection, and beginning that 
life of kindness which was a leading feature in their history. 

It was the practice of Mrs. Joanna Bethune to write 
to her son regularly on the 18th of March, and she does so 
In this year, 1826, to the following purport : 



WEST INDIES. 5 

**And what, my dear George, do you think this day recalls to my mind ? 
More than I can tell, of him who, twenty one years ago, first opened his 
eyes on time. You miglit indeed have been called by your beloved fatlier, 
%vhat the people of France called their king, ' Le Desire ; ' so anxious 
was he to liave a. son, that he might devote him to the Lord. Oh the 
prayers, the tears, the anxious desires that have been poured out and ex- 
pressed before a throne of grace for you, my dear son. See to it that you 
*be not negligent.' If you have no opportunity of benefiting others, 
which I hope you may, be much in prayer and reading the Scriptures, 
that you may gain that spiritual knowledge without which all other 
knowledge will be a curse rather than a blessing, in the profession you 
have chosen. Your father alv/ays esteemed it a peculiar blessing, tliat 
before he entered into business or married, he had a season of leisure 
to study and pray over the word of God. The diligent use that he made 
of that season was useful to him all his after life ; and made him, even 
a layman, eminently useful to others, which you know. * Whatsoever thy 
hand findeth to do, do it with thy might,' ought to be the motto of every 
Christian. Time is passing, the prophecies fulfilling, let us press into 
the ranks of those that are on the Lord's side, that we also, however fee^ 
ble in ourselves, may be instruments in God's hand of bringing in the 
great and glorious day when all shall know him from the least unto the 
greatest." 

We shall see how, until late in life, Mr. Bethune was 
aided, encouraged, warned and stimulated, by a constant 
succession of such noble letters, and how well the son ap- 
preciated his privilege. In answer to the above he 
writes : 

'*Matanzas, April i. 
"I received, some days since, a previous letter by way of Havana, 
which gave me pain, because I learned from it that one of mine had 
caused pain to you, though He that knoweth the heart, knew nothing 
was farther from my intentions. With sorrow and regret, I sincerely 
crave your pardon, and my kind and forgiving mother will, I am sure, 
remember that there are some chords in the heart which are more mor- 
bidly sensitive than others ; and I must say that the thought of being a 
married man with nothing to support my wife, and no immediate pros- 



GO MEMOIR OF GEO. \V. BETHUNE, D. D. 

pect of making anything, is to me exquisitely painful. But on this 
subject I have done. 

You ask me in your last, if I find any opportunities of usefulness 
about me. There is perhaps, no place where such opportunities may 
not be found, if sought for. But there is scarcely any place -vrhere few- 
er are to be found than here. I had hopes to do some good among the 
negroes of the plantation, but they do not understand any English what- 
ever ; and are most bigoted and ignorant Catholics. The most of the 
foreigners are hooters at religion, and so fearful is the Government of 
anything like Protestantism, that my being connected with the clerical 
profession, almost lost me my passport ; and nothing but high bribes to 
the Custom House, saved my two trunks of books from forfeiture for 
heresy. Were it known that I attempted religious instruction, impris- 
onment or banishment would be more certainly the consequence, than 
if I murdered or robbed. Still I hope the great day may reveal some lit- 
tle good, of doing which I may have been the means in the Island of 
Cuba. " 

Some effort was made with the house-servants, which 
was his first hibor among the blacks, in whom he afterwards 
became much interested. He taught tliem to read, sing 
hymns, and gave such moral instruction as he could. The 
family was increased by a young Bostonian, wliora Mr. 
Bethunc rescued from a band of soldiers, who threatened 
him with the bayonet because he would not kneel before the 
host which the priests were carrying through the streets of 
Matanzas ; fleet horses, and the feint of having pistols in 
their breasts, saved them. Now that they were known as 
Protestants, they always carried pistols in their holsters, 
in fact, Mr. Bethune slept with them under his pillqw 
from his first arrival. In April, 1826, they left this inhospit- 
able island, and brought along a little Spanish maiden, wlio 
was taught to love Jesus, and in later life returned to do 
good among her friends ; after spending a few pleasant days 
in Charleston, they proceeded to Pliiladelphia and New 
York. 

From this period the correspondence becomes voluminous, 



LICENSURE. 61 

and would be of itself, when arranged in order, a full and 
almost sufficient memoir ; five thousand letters of all kinds 
have been examined and noted ; a due selection of these 
will be inserted in their proper places, and they will in many 
instances tell their own story without the help of remark. 

Perhaps it will interest our readers to know that in the 
large share of this mass of manuscript which is in Dr. Be- 
thune's handwriting we have discovered not one careless or 
ungrammatical expression, and only one orthographical error. 
This frightful crime amounts to an "1'' too much in " thank- 
ful ■ ^ and had he not, in other places, given in his adherence 
to the use of the single labial, might have considered him- 
self borne out by partial usage and not altogether despi- 
cable authority. We suspect that his pen slipped. 

Solomon has used a vigorous expression touching the 
effect of dead flies upon the ointment of the apothecary ; 
and the only effect of that questionable "1" is to call at- 
tention to our writer's sensitive purity in matter of style 
and diction. 

Rev. J. McElroy D.D. to G. W. B. ''June 13, 182G. 

*' My Dear Sir : I received your communication three days ago, and 
should gladly have replied to it immediately, but have hitherto been pre- 
vented. I have now only time to -vvrite a few lines. 

We will agi'ec in opinion, that had it been practicable for you to spend 
another year at the Seminar}-, it would have been better for you, and 
better for the cause which I trust we both love ; better for you, as you 
Avould thus have been more amply furnished for the arduous work you 
have in view, and better for the cause, inasmuch as you would thus have 
been able to exert a still greater efficiency in advancing the Redeemer's 
interests. But under all the circumstances of your situation, I am 
clearly of the opinion that you should be licensed, and you need appre- 
hend no difficulty in the way of that event. 

I take the liberty of assigning you, as the subject of a popular SQr« 



Q2 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHT XE, D. D. 

mon, Galatians vi., v. 14, stopping at the word 'Christ.' 'But God 
forbid that I should glory sare in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.' 
Wishing you, my dear sir, the Master's presence and blessing, 
I am very truly yours." 

The license to preach came from the Second Presbytery 
of New York and is dated July 11, 1826. The family were 
accustomed during the summer to resort to Rockaway, and 
Mr. Bethune's first sermon before the public was preached 
in a school-house near by, from the same text that had been 
assigned by Dr. McElroy ; in this place, Mrs. J. Bethune had 
already established a Sunday School. 

G. W. B. TO Mrs. Joaxxa Bethune. "Salem, Auj. 7, 1826. 

'' My Dear Mother : "We arrived here in safety, but at a house of 
mourning, on Saturday. Dear little Alexander had a return of the com- 
plaints which have troubled him since his birth, .... and on Saturday 
afternoon the dear sufferer exchanged this world of sin and sorrow for 
the presence of Ilim who said : ' Except ye become as little children ye 
cannot see the kingdom of God.' Poor dear Mary's grief Avas excessive, 
but her sweet Christian spirit, upheld by the consolations of the Gospel, 
has recovered at least calmness and resignation. The Colonel feels it 
very much ; his heart was Avrapped up in him. It has affected me very 
much. I have never loved a child of his age so much since John Mason 
DuiHeld. . . . The funeral took place yesterday. Of course I was 
silent during the whole of the day, though very much urged to preach 
by the Doctor. I received yours, with the enclosure, a short time ago, 
for which I thank you sincerely. ... I must manage in some way to 

preach one day in Troy. Mr. has been very imprudent, and Ms 

congregation is much displeased with his mode of preaching. He points 
at individual members from the pulpit, and repeats what he has heard 
they have said during the week. 

Your affectionate and grateful son." 

The rest of the summer and autumn were occupied in a 
preaching tour through Western New York, when the 
young candidate appeared before different audiences ; he 
also distributed Bibles and Tracts in destitute places. 



VISIT TO TUE SOUTH. 63 

G. W. B, TO Mrs. J. B. " Saratoga, August 15, 1826. 

My Dear Mother; I arrived here this evening from Salem, ex- 
pecting to find Mc Cartee, in which I am both disappointed and alarmed, 
fearful lest sickness either of himself or of the family may have de- 
tained him. He should certainly have written to me and not left me to 
go about the country in this way after him. I am without any creden- 
tials whatever (having trusted to having him with mc) and am yet on a 
preaching tour. I preached for Dr. Proudfit twice last Sabbath, I 
believe to the satisfaction of my friends. I that I might be able to 
say it was convincing to the hearts of sinners. Well might we ex- 
claim What is man ! and yet O the consolation and encouragement of 
that promise or rather declaration, * It pleased God through the 
foolishness of preaching,' not the wisdom, * to save them that believe.'" 

G. W. B. to Mrs. J. B. "Salem, SepL 15, 1826. 

I had hoped to have preached in Troy, as a fine church is about to be 
organized in that place, but was disappointed. It seems strange that I 
have never yet preached in a vacancy. I pass my time here in study 
chiefly, though under some disadvantages from want of books. There 
is very little society out of the immediate family. 

Do you know when the Examination at Princeton is ? I have entirely 
forgotten the day, but wish to be there to see my classmates once more 
before they separate forever. I suppose it would give you some pleasure 
to learn that my preacliing in Albany gave very great satisfaction to one 
of the most sensible and judicious congregations there. If he whose 
cause I serve would but make it means of making some wise unto salva- 
tion, how much richer the pleasure!" 

Savannah, Nov. 6. Mrs. Bethune and he have arrived 
safely at this city after a pleasant passage, having 
preached on board the vessel to a congregation of ninety 
souls. 

G. W. B. TO Mrs. J. B. " Savannau, Nov. 12. 

I have been working since I have been here. I preached to a large 
congregation of negroes and whites in the negro church on Tliursday 
evening. For Mr. How ail day yesterday in a very large church and 
congregation, made an address and opened the Sunday school and 
preached to a crammed, overflowing house in the negro church at night. 



64 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

I love this place very much, there seems to be a vast deal of Christian 
spirit and zeal, and the people generally, especially the poor negroes, 
seem anxious to hear. They are in point of privilege many degrees 
above the blacks in Charleston." 

*' Savannah, Nov. 26, 1826. 

My Dear Mothek ; You should have heard of me sooner since my 
last, but that my time has been occupied in going to and returning from 
Augusta. I am sorry that I am unable to state my prospects for 
the winter because as yet I have none. Augusta is at present in a very 
unsettled state. They have had a Unitarian among them, and they have 
promised him a thousand dollars a year to come to them. The Presby- 
terian and Episcopalian ministers, have both been attacked as to their 
character for sobriety, and though the charges have been investigated and 
jn-oved to be false, there are many who yet believe and endeavor to 
spread them. When I sent up my letter, it was taken no notice of. 
But when in Augusta last week I was told by one of the session that 
they anticipated much pleasure from my being in Augusta, because 
Avere there no other minister there, I could supply them. They thought 
that I would come at any rate, and would be a kind of co7-ps de reserve, a 
kind of forlorn hope to do when no other could be found. They seemed 
to have no idea of inviting to a regular supply. The good people of 
Savannah seem very anxious to keep me here and indeed I am desir- 
ous of staying. I know no place where I may be more useful than this, 
while I remain at the South. I have not been idle. I have preached, or 
shall have preached to-morrow evening, should God give hfe and strength, 
twelve times in sixteen days, besides addresses, and travelling three hun- 
dred miles. I will preach under the Bethel flag on board a ship, to- 
morrow. I am fulfilling as far as possible the command to preach the 
gospel to the poor ; for negroes and sailors are my favorite auditors. Can 
I have any more tracts, little books for children and sailors' tracts 
especially ? I have abundant use for many more than I have, and I hate 
to be economical of the Bread of Life." 

♦* Savannah, Dec. 11, 1826. 

You must have received before tliis my letter containing an account 
of my visit to Augusta, and I am confident that so far from regretting 
that I have not obtained that situation, you must rejoice, owing to the 
unpleasant state of feeling and things there existing. One thing is 



VISIT TO THE SOUTH. 65 

certain that I have been treated very cavalierly by those gentlemen, 
and with the exception of the expense I was at in going there, I regret 
nothing more than that I exposed myself to their neglect. 

Immediately upon my arrival here, a path of usefulness seemed to be 
opened to me which I would have left with regret for the most splendidly 
endowed situation our church has within its bounds. Nor would I have 
left it but from the conviction that your wishes and my own necessi- 
ties demanded my seeking some employment, which, while it i)rom- 
ised usefulness in ray Master's cause, promised also, some means for 
my support. The prospect even of such a situation, Providence seemed 
to deny me. Wilmington I had kept as a forlorn hope, because the ex- 
posed situation in which it stands to the sea, would, had I taken it, have 
demanded my separation from Mary. On Friday evening, however, 
Mr. How, who has been very attentive to me since I have been here, 
called upon me at the instance of the Board of directors of the City Mis- 
sionary Society, to request me to remain as their Missionary at the sal- 
ary of fifty dollars per month, which after a prayerful consideration of 
two days, from the prospect of usefulness afforded me, I have been in- 
duced to accept. My labors shall be devoted in a primary degree to the 
sailors and the poor. Among the sailors my engagements are pecul- 
iarly delightful. To the number of two hundred and fifty, they crowd 
around me, and listen with the most breathless attention, and receive 
their tracts with a grateful expression, which is, I hope, indicative of 
good feeling. The mildness of the climate enables me to preach on 
the deck of the ship. But it is not to the sailors alone that my ad- 
dresses are directed. There is a large number of men, chiefly young 
men, who never attend regular service, who follow me wherever I go, 
and to whom I hope the Lord, through me, may communicate some 
lasting instruction. The poor blacks also assemble in great numbers, 
when they know I am to preach, because they say, " I talk so plain. I 
no use big words. I talk plain." My meetings during the week are 
held on Tuesday evening, when I hope to have a full house from the 
attendance of the inhabitants of a part of the town which corresponds 
to the "Hook" in the city of New York. I assist, occasionally, the 
ministers here, Baptist, Presbyterian, and Methodist, black and white, 
so that I seldom preach less than six or seven times during the seven 
days, if extemporaneous addresses can be called sermons. For except 
5 



(jQ MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

in the large churches, for which I always write, I preach without writ- 
ing. Such are my prospects and my engagements. If I have done 
wrong in making them, I hope I shall be forgiven by my mother and my 
God. It was not without many an anxious prayer, and careful exami- 
nation that I thus determined. It belongs to man to err, and although 
this is no excuse with God, it may be some palliation with an affection- 
ate mother. " 

*• Savannah, Dec. 28. 
I preach frequently for the blacks, and Mr. How, so that I seldom 
preach less than three times on the Sabbatli, and twice or thrice during the 
week. I have enough labor, that is certain, whether I do any good or 
not, the Lord only knows. I preached, or rather delivered an address 
for the Sabbath school in this place, and obtained for it about seventy 
dollars, about three times as much as they were ever able to obtain be- 
fore. They, however, go on a poor plan here, they teach none to read, 
considering the free schools as sufficient. They employ themselves 
solely about instruction from the Bible. This is very good, indeed, the 
principal tiling, but the other should not be neglected."* 

The fact was, that his knowledge of the character of sea- 
men, together with his perfect familiarity with nautical 
phrases, and sea life, rendered his services among sailors ex- 
tremely popular and successful. One of his hearers expressed 
the idea : " I like to hear 3^ou because you know the ropes. ^' 
While in Savannah and preaching in the Bethel Chapel, the 
Pastor of the Presbyterian Church proposed an exchange. 
To this proposal Mr. Bethune was slow to respond well know- 
ing Jack's dislike to see " a new hand at the wheel.'' But 
after due warning of the peculiarity of his salt-water congre- 
gation, consent was given. During the ensuing week, he, 
meeting one of his charge, naturally inquired how the boys 
liked the minister whom he had sent. Jack bluntly con- 
demned him and called him "an old land-lubber.'' '*Ah," 
said the Pastor, " that is wrong, you must not call the min- 
ister of the gospel a land-lubber." " Yes, but he is a land- 



VISIT TO THE SOUTH. 67 

lubber ; " replied the tar. " Why, he talked about the anchor 
of hope, and spun a long yarn, of a storm at sea and a ship 
coming near land and in the very breakers : Then he 
said, ' what would you do but heave out your anchor ? ' 
Now, in such a case, I'd like to know, what in creation we 
could do with an anchor? No, no, we would order all 
hands on deck and try to claw her off shore." So the sailor 
walked off triumphantly, feeling justified in his assertion. 
Dr. Bethune, in after life, often told this anecdote with great 
relish. 
G. W. B. TO Mrs. J. B. " Savannah, Jan. 12, 1827. 

Your tracts arrived very seasonably. I was just out, and knew not 
where to turn for more. On Sabbath last however, my captains came 
around me after I had preached from tliat passage in Proverbs ; — ' He 
that hath friends must shew himself friendly, and there is a friend that 
sticketh closer than a brother ' — and said that they ought to shew them- 
selves friendly, and proposed that on the next Sabbath I should take up 
a collection for tracts, after service. This will be to-morrow. My audien- 
ces rather increase than diminish, and their attention is unequalled by 
any congregation I have ever preached to, and I have more than once 
seen tears streaming down a hard weather-beaten check. 

One interesting circumstance I must mention, that, on board of the 
Scotch sliip where I preached this morning, there was a larger attendance 
than at any time previous, and you might notice the crew with each liis 
Bible, turning to the text, as if they were in the kirk at home. The 
' tract collection', amounted to fifteen dollars and fifty cents, whereas my 
brightest hopes did not extend beyond five dollars. One old fellow came 
up with two cents between his finger and thumb, remarking tliat he 
would give more to-morrow Avhen he was paid off." 

" Savannah, Feb. 24, 1827. 
I received some thirteen thousand tracts by the Louisa Matilda, with 

a very polite note from Mr. the Depositary. I am much obliged 

to you for your trouble, and am very much pleased with the selection, 
except that some which were sent might have been substituted for 
* The Swearer's Prayer.' I am very thankful for the fifty dollars. At 
the time I received it, we had not three dollars in the world, and a month 



68 MEiMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

to go before any would be due, much less paid. But the Lord will take 
care of me. I fear it not : Something more than fifty dollars a month is 
necessary to do it with, however, unless the ravens bring us our food." 

Br. How* gives the following account of his work at 
Savannah : — 

*' Besides the sailors, a very considerable number of the citizens of 
Savannah, and among them some of the most respectable and intelli- 
gent and influential men, habitually attended our young pastor's preach- 
ing, and there is reason to believe that his ministry was useful to all 
classes of his hearers. The fidelity with which he set forth the great 
and fundamental truths of the Gospel, the earnestness with which he 
pressed them on the attention of his hearers ; and the eloquence and 
power with which he spoke, arrested their close attention, and produced 
attding impressions on their minds. His ministry, I doubt not, was 
highly useful and instrumental in leading some of his hearers to un- 
feigned repentance and faith in Christ. He occasionally preached to the 
slaves, especially to those on a plantation in the neighborhood of the 
city, belonging to an eminently pious lady. "While they greatly admired 
his preaching, they also became strongly attached to him, because of his 
kind, familiar and gentlemanly intercourse Avith them. The slaves on 
this plantation, as also on a very large number of the plantations in the 
South, belonged to the Baptist Denomination. One of them was a 
Baptist preacher, strongly attached to liis particular Church and confi- 
dent that they were preeminently distinguished for holding Christian 
truth and practice in greater purity than they are held by any other re- 
ligious body of Christians. He became very much interested in Dr. 
Bethune, and strongly attached to him. I have heard the Doctor very 
pleasantly repeat the following incident concerning this preacher : he 
was expressing to Dr. Bethune his approval and admiration of his 
preaching, when he suddenly changed his tone with much earnestness, 
*But, Massa, in the Millennium they '11 all be Baptists.' The Doctor re- 
ceived tliis information without dispute.^' 

In later years Dr. Bethune spoke gratefully of the wise 
counsel given by this excellent minister. He was inexperi- 

* Eev. Saml. B. How, D, D., now of New Brunswick, N. J. 



VISIT TO THE SOUTH. 69 

enced, and yet already enjoyed some of the popularity which 
attaches to the man of eloquence. Crowds often sought his 
ministry. The young preacher was inclined to careless 
preparation. Richly gifted with power of language he found 
it easy to produce a popular harangue and thus was preach- 
ing extemporaneously and allowing his talents to run to 
waste. Here the older workman did good service, he took 
the beginner to his study, explained his danger and urged 
him to write his sermons as the best method of securing 
proper forethought, a course Avhich was faithfully pursued by 
the scholar in the period of his greatest success. 

His labors here were very arduous, but his success was 
great and popularity general, his reception by all classes was 
enthusiastic and might have injured other young ministers. 
He preached to the negroes in the evening, and it is deserv- 
ing of note that the interest which his early occupation cre- 
ated in his mind followed him through his entire ministry ; 
those causes to which he was especially devoted being <' The 
Seamen's Friend," and " The Colonization Societies." 



70 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 



CHAPTER IV. 

RHINEBECK MINISTRY. 

G. W. B. TO Mrs. J. B. " Salem, June 2o, 1827. 

I embrace the first mail since my arrival here to inform you of our 
welfare. Stopped at Rhinebeck, on my -way up, as I proposed, and 
learned from my kind friends that there would be a meeting for the 
choice of pastor last Saturday. What the result of the meeting was I do 
not know. Some were flattering enough to think they Avould pitch upon 
me, at least by a majority. It should be a large one to induce me to 
accept. I have received, by this day's mail, two very pleasing letters 
from Savannah, — one from my excellent friend, Mr. How, enclosing a 
very pressing and affectionate invitation from the Ladies' Missionary 
Society, to labor among them during the next winter, with a salary of 
one hundred dollars per month. The prospect of usefulness which tliis 
presents, with the almost adequate support, makes an admirable corps 
de reserve. Mr. How accompanies the invitation with his warmest en- 
treaties that I should accept it ; the other is from my excellent friend Airs. 
Mc Queen, sending me the thanks of my poor negroes for the little ser- 
mon which I sent them, and assurances of their kind regards." 

He worked to great profit amongst the negroes of her 
plantation, and was enabled to establish a well ordered 
Church. Mrs. McQueen gratefully rewarded his fidelity and 
became his most attached friend. 

G. "W. B. TO Mrs. J. B. "Saratoga Springs, July 30, 1827. 

I received, a day or two since, a letter from Mr. Jno. Eadcliff, of 
Rhinebeck, in which he says that the committee of the session were then 
engaged in taking up subscriptions to authorize a call for me. Thus far 
they had succeeded beyond their most earnest expectations. Many had 



RHINEBECK MINISTRY. 71 

subscribed more than at any previous period, and the friends of Mr. 
Labagh had testified their acquiescence in subscribing liberally. Until 
their subscription is completed, they will send me no official communi- 
cation. As far as we short-sighted mortals can judge, there seems no 
doubt of their calling me. I look to God for guidance and strength. 
This is an important crisis in my life. But my faith is under the direc- 
tion o£ God. To him I commit myself." 

With tliis call from the Dutch Church at Rhinebeck, in- 
volving a change of rehgious denomination, a very serious 
question was presented to the young pastor. This step 
could not have been taken without deep thought and anxious 
prayer, as it was to define his future position. Some years 
later he published a sermon entitled " Reasons for preferring 
a union with the Reformed Dutch Church of I^orth America," 
which give us a synopsis of his deliberation. 

"Many who love ecclesiastical order, pure truth, and above all, free- 
dom from contention, have swelled, her members, and now the name 
Eeformed Dutch has ceased to be so much a national distinction as the 
title of a sect holding certain peculiar features of government, posses- 
sing a certain religious character, and subject to certain distinct ecclesi- 
astical courts." He preferred her Order; equally removed from the 
democracy of Congregationalism, the monarchy of Episcopacy, and the 
oligarchy of Presbyterianism she presents in her representative govern- 
ment united to rotation in office, the purest republican constitution. 
He liked her Liturgy, the most important parts of which are required 
to be used. In these, whatever may be the unfaithfulness of the minis- 
ter, the great doctrines of grace in their unadulterated purity, are 
brought before the minds, and impressed upon the hearts of the people. 
He delighted in her sound Doctrine, yet with kind forbearance to those 
who were considered in error. He admired her " Spirit, 1. Steady, 
slow to change ; 2. Benevolent to other sects and in charities ; and 3. one 
of brotherly love. Her ministers are a band of brethren. When we 
meet it is as children of tlie same beloved mother. This I am bold to say, 
is peculiarly her character. It is obvious to all that are familiar with us, 
TLt same spirit pervades her laity. If we ditiyr uj minor |K)int6, we dif- 



72 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. DETHUXE, D. D. 

fer in love. The object of our diso.ussion is not the triumph of party, 
but the peace of the church, and the discovery of truth by mutual coun- 
sels. Those who have seen us in our assemblies, must bear witness to 
the fact. We never meet but with joy, and never part but with tears and 
mutual benedictions. I am aware this is a high wrought picture, but it 
is faithful. My heart flows over with thankfulness to the God of love, 
while I draw it." Lastly, opportunities of usefulness in the Reformed 
Dutch Church are great. 

"Our church is at peace. We are not called upon to engage in tlie 
controversies of the day, which so much distract the minds, divide the 
hearts, and occupy the energies of some sister churches. We may then 
give ourselves wholly to the work of saving souls for our Master. If it 
be necessary that other denominations should go to the war, we, a little 
band, may stay at home and cultivate the field of the Lord, and gather 
the harvest. We are united, we are respected, and hold a jyosition of 
great influence. Such," he concludes, admitting into his serious discourse 
a little drop of native humor, " such are some of the reasons why we 
continue to love our church ; why many who have no national claim to 
her appellation, * seek her good ; ' and why we believe that * they shall 
prosper that love her.' If any deem these reasons insufficient, we will 
yet remain where we are, until we can find a better spiritual home." 

Of these reasons doubtless the two most potent in the 
mind of the young divine were the distracted state of the 
Presbyterian, church (then engaged in the struggles which 
resulted in its division), and the liturgical attraction. He had 
a taste for forms and inclined to give divine service a richer 
dress. Certain it is that his choice was the result of earnest 
conviction, for he gave his great heart with unflinching loy- 
alty to the church of his adoption. 

G. W. B. TO Mrs. J. B. "Lebanon Springs, Aug. 13, 1827. 

I am in a little doubt upon a subject in which I wish your advice. In 

the event of my accepting Rhinebeck, is it better for me to be ordained 

in New York, or R ? I had rather receive ordination from my own 



RHINEBECK MINISTRY. 73 

Presbytery, andMc Carte e thinks it would be pleasanter for me ; while on 
the other hand Dr. Me Elroy, whom I met at Saratoga, thinks I would 
do better to consult Dutch feeling, and receive ordination fi-om the 

Classis. Do send me your advice, as it will determine me I 

think of you continually, and from very many people have the kindest 

inquiries addressed to me I preached tmce at Saratoga, and I 

received invitations from i)eople of all quarters to visit vacancies in 
their neighborhood. Two of the Consistory of the Dutch Church in 
Schenectady were sent to me to request me to preach for them, one, and, 

if possible, a number of Sabbaths Two persons whom I never 

saw before, introduced themselves to me, to request me, but not ofiBcially, 
to go to Portland, Maine, as Dr. Payson's health is so bad as to permit 
him to preach but seldom. I have of course given the negative to every- 
thing until this aifair with Rhinebeck is settled." 

Mrs. J. B. to her Son. " New York, Aug. 15, 1827. 

Mt dear George : At last I can acknowledge a letter from you. If 
you think of me continually, you might find a few minutes to put your 
thoughts on paper. Had I not heard from others, I should not have 
known of your getting the call to Rhinebeck. Choules gave the first in- 
formation of it, and last Sabbath evening Mr. Camp, of Rhinebeck, called 
to inquire for you, and spent an hour with me ; he seems a good, pious 
man. 

I agree with Mr. Mc Elroy as to your ordination. It would have been, 
perhaps, more pleasant for you to have been ordained by your own pres- 
bytery, but as it has not been done previous to your accepting the call, I 
think it would please your people better to have all done by the Ciassis. 
Tliey would then acknowledge you more a Dutchman, as I presume you 
would need no dismission from any other body. But I speak without 
knowing much of forms. I trust the Lord himself wUl be your counsel- 
lor in that, and everytliing else. I should like to be present at your 
ordination and installation ; both, I presume, at the same time, which is 
another reason for being ordained by the Classis." 

He was ordained by the Second Presbytery of New York 
in view of his call to the Rhinebeck Church, and when he as- 
sumed the solemn vows, he stood upon the spot where his 



74 MEMOIR OF GEO. AV. BETHUNE, D. D. 

parents had offered him to the Lord in baptism, and i\'here 
reposed the sacred remains of his father and grandmother. 
Directly after, he was installed at Rhinebeck and had 
a most cordial reception. The original correspondence 
speaks for itself. 

G. W. B. TO Mrs. J. B. "Rhinebeck, Dec. 10, 1827. 

We arrived here ia safety, and are now enjoying as much comfort as 
our anxiety with regard to you will permit 

It is a delightful reflection, the omnipresence and universal providence 
of Grod, that in all places, and under all circumstances, he is ever at hand 
to bless, to uphold, and to comfort his people, that the prayer for his 
mercy, though ascending for a distant mother, is as effectual as if offered 
hj her bedside. You are with him my beloved mother, with him in whom 
you have believed, upon whom you have trusted, to whom you have com- 
mitted every temporal and eternal interest. He has promised and he is 
faithful ; he will comfort you and stay you by the right arm of his right- 
eousness, and this is my only comfort in being absent from you." 

"Ehinebeck, Jan. 2, 1828. 

Things go on here tolerably well, and I have my hands as full of bus- 
iness as they can well be, but I have reason ta be thankful. I am suc- 
ceeding better than I had any reason to anticipate. My operations in 
the quarter where the Methodists had broken in upon me, have been at- 
tended with signal success, my Bible class there already consisting of 
five and twenty. 

I have also strong reasons for believing ray project of a Classical 
School, Avill be successful. I have made Mr. Van Horn an offer of 
about seventy-four dollars per quarter, to begin with, with every pros- 
pect of rapid increase. Should he come, I shall enjoy some assistance of 
my Sunday schools. 

Few changes take place in our little village of interest to you. The 
whole routine of my duties to a superficial eye, is very monotonous, but 
to my anxious mind full of interest. Preaching here, preaching there ; 
catechising in tliis quarter or that ; visiting this sick or that afflicted 
famOy, but it is my work, assigned me by the Master. May I fulfil the 
end for wliich he has called me." 



RHINEBECK MINISTRY. 75 

"Rhinebeck, Jan. 3, 1828. 
Every thing about us progresses (to use a Yankee phrase) very well. 
We live very retired and very happily. We have great reason to be 
thankful. My official labours are so numerous as to prevent my taking 
much enjoyment in my greatest pleasure, reading, and my separation 
from my bclov<2d and affectionate mother hangs like a cloud over me. 
If I had time to relieve myself by frequent writing, it would be different, 
but my moments allotted to general writing must be had, when others 
would be asleep, and the duties which more than filled up the day are 
closed. But if all were sunshine and happiness here, we would not seek 
for heaven ; if we had all the comforts of home in this poor world, we 
would not care for our Father's house. But I trust I am not entirely 
ungrateful for the mercies I receive. I feel a happiness and enjoyment 
of my labour, which I never knew in my leisure hours, and I know by 
experience, that the sleep and the food of the labouring man is sweet. 

"Ehinebeck, January 10, 1828. 

Mt Beloved Mother ; Your kind letter I received and read with that 
attention which every suggestion from one so affectionate and tender 
towards me deserves. I thank you, my dear mother, for the gentleness 
and forbearance with which you warn me of my follies and my sins. 
Dear mother, I thought all the while with David, ' let the righteous 
smite thee, it shall be a kindness and let him reprove me, it shall be an 
excellent oil, which shall not break thy head.' I dare hardly make prom- 
ises, I have so often promised yet failed ; but my dear mother, your 
letter has reached my heart. I. do feel and deeply too, that I have been 
foolish, sinfully, ungratefully foolish, and I pray God I may never give 
you cause to repeat the gentle reproofs conveyed in your last. It is 
not with any intention to extravagance but through carelessness — sin- 
ful, blameable carelessness — I acknowledge. Not to excuse, but per- 
haps to palliate, my folly, I may say, that, we are young housekeepers 
and may, perhaps, and I hope we will, improve." 

'•I have been lately thinking more and more about the instruction of 
the lambs of the flock, and it appears to me that the church as such by 
its government should take a more decided part in the instruction of the 
young. The old churches (spite of our boasted novelties) managed 
these things better, especially our church (Hollanidsche), — she had all 
the schools under her care. Their masters were her choice, subject to 



76 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

her government. Now, suppose an infant school attached to each 
church. Then the Sabbath schools for more decidedly religious and 
doctrinal instruction. Then schools for higher branches until the clas- 
sical branches should finish all. How perfectly could the church control 
the growing years and expanding afiections of her young. Immoral 
teachers, dangerous books, all would be banished from the schools, 

"I begin to be more and more of Dr. Green's sentiments, viz : That 
hoAvever beneficial Bible and Sabbath Societies may be, the church in 
her corporate capacity should be up and doing. The command is to the 
church, Go ye and preach. I wish we had your book, I feel quite im- 
patient to see it. I have half a notion to turn autlior myself. I find 
that there is nothing more difficult in the country, than to find good 
well-informed teachers or even those who have an opportunity of inform- 
ing themselves. Judson's Questions, or anybody's questions, will be of 
little service Avhere there is no commentary to assist the teacher to ex- 
plain. Bible classes and lectures do something towards this, but not 
enough — neither does the instruction of a bible class keep pace with 
the Sabbath school. 

" My plan is this — to begin with the creation — thence the fall — the 
promise of Messiah — the call of Abraham — Israel — the Passover &c., 
to Christ's birth — thence through the gospel — to write a short running 
commentary adapted to the higher classes of Sabbath schools — divided 
into proper lessons with short practical remarks and place at the end 
the questions which show the attention of the scholar to the comment- 
ary. This commentary to embrace geographical, archseological, doc- 
trinal, explanatory and practical remarks, suited especially to children. 
The only thing which I fear is, the expense." 

" Rhinebeck, February 18, 1828. 
You have probably seen the result of our Bible meeting. It was 
very clieering. The resolution was entered upon our minutes, that 
within six months every family in the county of Dutchess should have a 
bible. The motion was made by a Methodist, seconded by a Baptist, and 
enforced by a Lutheran. When I saw they were about to disperse I 
rose and moved, with a few remarks, that a subscription be opened imme- 
diately ; it was carried almost by acclamation and my mother will excuse 



RHINEBECK MINISTRY. 77 

my putting down $ 10, when it was followed immediately by .$ 250 
— and since, I learn, by more than $ 100 more — our county funds ex- 
clusive of the auxiliary societies, must now amount to nearly 400 dol- 
lars. I think that the Bible Funds throughout the county of Dutchess 
within the present year must amount to $ 1,200. 
So much for prompt exertion." 

The young pastor was made Honorary Member of the 
Delphian Society of Union College on the 1st of April of this 
year, and the diploma, being the first of many the like which 
he received, is carefully preserved in the family archives. 
On the 18th of September comes the first letter to beg for 
patronage and recommendation. Some years later such 
letters came by dozens and twenties. The last we see of 
him in 1828 is his leaving a letter to his mother to " do the 
courteous to his congregation, which has turned Qiit almost 
en masse to build his fence for him." 

His labors and meditations at this time are continually 
turned towards the schools of his charge, and he constantly 
has to thank his mother for aiding him with advice and 
money to keep them up. 

In September 1829, his congregation made what he calls 
a " straggling attempt" to raise his salary. « The utmost point 
they try to reach is eight hundred dollars, and I doubt whether 
they will make that out. It is to be sure a rather unfivor- 
able time." But better days were coming. 

G. W. B. TO Mrs. J. B. "Rhinebeck, October 26, 1829. 

The Rev. Mr. Schemerhorn of Utica, came to make a proposal of 
very grave interest. You know, perhaps, that for a year or two back, 
they have been endeavoring to raise a Dutch Church in Utica, to recall 
the descendants of our church to the institutions of their forefothers and 
specially to stem the tide of error and disorder which is flowing at the 
West. The Church is now completed or nearly so, and Mr. S. has 



78 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

come to ask me to become the pastor, and says that he does so because 
I have been mentioned by a number of persons high in the Dutch 
Church, as the person adapted for the enterprise, and that he can find no 
other. Mr. Varick of Utica, who is one of the main pillars in the 
Church, having heard me at Oswego, and Mr. Broadhead also wish me. 
They secure to me a salary of one thousand dollars increasing with the 
income of the church, to fifteen hundred dollars. The price of living 
is far lower in Utica than here, and the station, one of the most promi- 
nent in the Dutch Church. 

The prospect of raising a good church speedily, is great. They 
wish to have a minister the latter part of December, at least. Now, 
what shall I do ? They press me for a speedy answer, but how can I 
give one. It does appear as if the Lord were calling me to another 
sphere of usefulness in some things, and others appear to bid me stay 
here. I write to you for your advice, I refer it to God by prayer and 
desire to be in his hands to do with me as he will, I feel my inability 
to discharge the duties of so important a station and think I am better 
here. But, if the Lord call me, then he will give me strength." 

The answer comes, — promptly, and to the point: 

" October 29. 

You, and I with you, undertook your present situation fully con- 
vinced that the salary of six hundred dollars would not support you, 
but hoping that the Lord Avould honor you as his instrument in reviv- 
ing an apparently neither cold nor hot congregation, that it would be a 
good place for study, and to form a character, and experience for future 
usefulness when the Lord should call you to a more enlarged sphere and 
you should see your Avay clear to accept such a call. 

How have these expectations been realized? Of the first we need 
say nothing, but surely the second has been more than realized. The 
pleasure of the Lord has indeed prospered in your hand, the dry bones 
have been clothed with sinews and flesh. The word of the Lord has 
not returned to him void; but as the snow and the rain has watered the 
earth and resulted in seed to the sower. The blessed purpose of the 
Lord has been fulfilled in the salvation of many souls, and you, ray be- 
loved son, the lionored instrument in His hand. You have also been 



RHINEBECK MINISTRY. 79 

instnimental in rousing the people to active exertion in the Lord's cause 
and to honor him with their substance, and through you much treasure 
has been cast into the Lord's treasury. You have seen an apparently 
careless people become a praying people, an apparently stingy people 
became a liberal people, and you have all along been treated with much 
affection and much greater respect than usually falls to the lot of young 
men. To balance this, you have not been supported, and your salary has 
not gone as far even as you expected, neither have the people done as 
much for you, in a pecuniary way, as they have done for others, but the 
worst part of your settlement is over, many expenses you have been 
exposed to, you will not have again. You will gradually learn experi- 
ence and economy, and, even at Mary's calculation, you may live. 

Taking the call into view I see nothing to tempt you to change, and 
much to frighten you. You would be in the very hot-bed of Hopkins- 
ianism, you would be looked at with a jealous eye by all settled minis- 
ters, and you would have to labor in season and out of season, not ex- 
clusively with the sweet feeling of bringing souls to Christ and honor 
to your Master, but to build up a Dutch Church ; both may be proper, 
but I must say, my heart shrinks from your engaging in any party work 
and of course being exposed to party feeling. A change may be neces- 
sary, but I do not advise it so soon. Your character is scarcely estab- 
lished, and were you to change for Utica, and probably from that to some 
other place, it might give an unfavourable impression of your stability. 
Besides, I see nothing to tempt you, even in a pecuniary way; one 
thousand dollars, without parsonage or wood, would be little better than 
what you have; your house-rent would be two hundred dollars at least, 
and you have loaded yourselves with so much " thick day " that the 
expense of moving would swallow up any overplus, and, though men- 
^tioned last, you will consider with me, the exposure of your dear Mary, 
at so inclement a season, as almost a sufficient reason itself for not 
attempting to move this season." 

Meanwhile, however, there were other causes at work and 
while the zealous young minister was " proposing," the ill 
health of his wil'e forced him to leave Rhinebeck for the 
South. He went away on leave of absence, but never came 
back again. 



80 BIEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

His laljors had been abundant. The congregation was 
spread over fifteen miles of country, and he was obliged to 
conduct four Bible classes. His audience was not composed 
entirely of plain country people, but embraced some who 
were distinguished in the land, such as Hon. Peter R. Liv- 
ingston, and the widow of General Montgomery. Mrs. L. he 
loved '^o call his " Rhinebeck mother," and when she was dy- 
ing he sang over her couch, " Angels are hovering round thy 
bed, to waft thy spirit home." He was most conscientious 
in work, never saving himself when the sick or sorrowful 
called. One evening he said to Mrs. B. we are both so fond 
of music, I am enticed to play the flute when I ought to be 
writing sermons. My flute is a temptation from duty. I will 
give it up. It was dispatched to a nephew with tears, and ac- 
companied by a note, " I send j^ou my flute, it tempts me 
from my studies. I love it, for it was the gift of your grand- 
father, use it tenderly for his sake." Frequently he was in 
his study till two or three o'clock in the morning, and when 
asked at a late hour, " Are you not weary ?" replied " Yes, 
but I cannot sleep till I have made each individual visited 
a subject of special prayer." 

Rev. Mr. Drury has supplied interesting particulars re- 
garding this ministry. 

**When Dr. Bethune came to Rhinebeck, tte church, like many of 
its sisters in the country, was in a cold and lifeless state ; though 
there was doubtless in it a little leaven of piety it was almost hidden 
in the great mass of dead orthodoxy and indifference by which it 
was surrounded. There was not a single unman-ied person in the 
communion under the age of fifty, and of the members there were none 
who could lead in public prayer. Of course such a thing as a social 
prayer-meeting was unknown, and under existing circumstances, seemed 
well-nigh Impossible. When after Dr. B. came he spoke of starting 



RHIKEBECK MINISTRY. 81 

one, a young man, now a leading member of tlie Poughkeepsie bar, 
doubtingly asked, "But Dominie, who will make the prayers?" to 
which the Dr. had to answer, " If no one else, I." 

He very soon filled the church with interested listeners to his 
preaching. With his natural gifts and abilities, he could not but be 
an attractive and eloquent speaker. His sermons while at Rhinebeck 
were characterized by the same practical and fervent spirit that is ob- 
served in his published discourses. At this period his pulpit prepara- 
tions were less studied than they afterwards became, and many of his 
former people, on hearing him in after years would remark the differ- 
ence, but yet insist, that although the Dominie had gained perhaps in 
grace and polish, he was more eloquent and effective to their minds, 
when his inspiration was gained more from daily intercourse with his 
people, than from the retirement of his study. At the second service 
he always extemporized, and these sermons are, I find, best, and most 
favorably remembered. But while the Dr. was effective in the pulpit, 
and by his preaching wrought a great work, his distinguished useful- 
ness was due, in almost as great measure, to his diligent use of the 
accessaries of preaching. 

As a pasto?' the Doctor was especially active. He seems to have 
recognized that in order to benefit his people he must get them ac- 
quainted with, and interested in, him, and to this end he spent much of 
his time with them at t)]eir homes. He took especial pains to interest 
the young, whom he regarded as the hope of the church. He was in the 
habit of remarking that the old people had become too set in their ways 
for him to do much with them, so he must, if he was going to do any- 
thing, attend to the young, as only in that way could he get such 
Christians as he wanted. He neglected no means by which he might 
hope to win any. If his horses needed shoeing, or he required in any 
way the services of a mechanic, he went himself to see to it, and in 
this apparently chance encounter was not unmindful of his higher 
work, and by his ready wit and conversational powers wiled many to 
hear him preach who were never before in the habit of attending 
church. 

Much that he did as a pastor was not discovered until after he had 
left. About eight miles from the village is a slate quarry, at that 



S2 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

time extensively -worked, affording employment to quite a number of 
workmen. They and their families were in a great degree destitute 
of the preaching of the gospel and the means of grace. After he had 
left, for many years the Doctor^s name was spoken of in these humble 
families with affection and respect. In each of them he had been a 
visitor, and quietly, and as it were, unknown, sowed the seeds of the 
word. He was famous for the speed of his driving. Such facts as 
these show in what service it was done. 

Dr. B. was, moreover, the inaugurator of the Temperance move- 
ment in Rhinebeck, and accomplished in this direction a much needed 
reform. His sermon on the subject is remembered by those who heard 
it as an eloquent and stirring effort. It was published. This is the 
first record of his appearance in print although he had contributed to 
magazines under assumed names. The Doctor not only preached but 
practiced the new doctrine. In the early spring, soon after preaching 
the sermon, he attempted to drive to Poughkeepsie on the ice, and 
just before reaching Hyde Park he broke in and with his companion, 
got a decided wetting. Yv^hen they reached Hyde Park his compan- 
ion suggested " taking a little something to keep the cold out," but 
the Doctor refused, saying he had lately ridiculed the idea of taking 
liquor in winter to keep out the cold and in summer to keep out the 
heat, and he was going to try the virtue of doing without it, and af- 
terwards testified that he was none the worse for his abstinence. 

Bethune was fond of horses and was accomplished in their manage- 
ment. He owned one or two during his stay which he alone was able 
to manage. So noted was his horsemanship that some were even 
brought to hear him preach to ascertain if he could preach as well as 
he could drive. He had as a near neighbor, an old gentleman, who 
spent a great deal of his time in his garden. As he was something ol 
a character in his way, the Doctor would frequently stop and converse 

with him over the fence. One day he said to him, " Well Mr. L , 

now you are suited to a great many employments, if you fail at one 
you can take to another ; but if I were prevented from preaching what 
do you think I would be good for?" The old gentleman stopped 
digging, and then with a twinkle in his eye, answered, " Vf ell, Domi- 
nie, if you have to stop preaching you would make a first rate stage- 



RniNEBECK MINISTRY. 83 

driver." The Doctor accepted the compliment on his horsemanship 

and failed not to repeat the joke to his friends. Mr. L did not 

tell his Dominie, as ho might have done, that other trades failing he 
could take to gardening. Helping hands were never wanting. A fine 
taste directed and a living energy urged on the work. A little gem of 
horticulture was the result. The tired eyes of the hard- writing pastor 
had a sweet object to dwell upon, flowers adorned the vases on the 
tables; and the great, much neglected truth that "beauty is cheap" 
received its fullest illustration. The parsonage was surrounded with 
beautiful scenery. A silver brook made sweet music at the bottom of 
the sloping ground on which the house stood, and the ruins of the old 
parsonage peeping through the trees reminded of good Dr. E-omeyn, 
who was its first occupant. The first winter was employed in bring- 
ing forest trees on sledges and placing them in trenches prepared, and 
in the spring the grounds were laid out and planted with the choicest 
fruits and flowers. The neighbors gladly aided in the work. One 
day they were in despair at fruitless eflforts lo mark a circle for the 
flower bed. The Dominie came up in his light wagon and perceiving 
at a glance their difficulty, desired them to stand back, drove in, and, 
with a sweep of his wheels, marked the true curve amid the uplifted 
hands and loudly expressed admiration of the bystanders. 

Rev. Mr. Hendricks relates that at a general training Mr. Bethune 
was chaplain of the day. Some of the people having fallen into intox- 
ication, the minister reproved the fault severely, asserting that it was 
beastly, but soon corrected himself, saying no, that was a satire on the 
beasts, for they never debased themselves in such wise. 



84 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUXE, D. D. 



CHAPTEE V. 

MINISTRY IN UTICA. 

On his arrival in Savannah, whites and blacks, sailors and 
civilians received their favorite Pastor with acclamation. 
He found a sphere of usefulness at once, by taking the place 
of Mr. Baker who was travelling for the Savannah Bible 
Society: ''so that the Lord can find a place for me,'^ he 
says, " and one too, in which I am, perhaps, aiding my favor- 
ite cause more than if I were personally and immediately 
engaged.'^ 

His somewhat exulting accounts to his mother did not 
elicit precisely the response that he may have expected. 
''What I most dread in your remaining at Savannah,'^ she 
says, " is your popularity there ; remember Bacon's prayer : 
' When I ascend before men, Lord, may I descend in deep 
humility before thee/ '' 

His satisfaction in his Savannah work too, was seriously 
lessened by the affairs of the Hhinebeck parish which 
weighed upon his mind, and of which he received no cheer- 
ing accounts. The eye of the Master was wanting and it 
is evident that in spiritual matters his church was retro- 
grading, in money matters not getting on. The call to Utica, 
though declined in theory, was yet an open question and the 
failure of the Khinebeck Consistory to reduce the debt of 
the church and raise their minister's stipend, left him free to 
stand by them or go elsewhere as should seem best. Mean- 
while, calls to other churches were not wanting. In the 



31IAISTKY IN UTICA. 85 

latter part of March a very complimentary letter from 
Charleston, invited him to fill the pulpit in the Second 
Presbyterian Church of that city. The wish of the con- 
gregation was unanimous, with the exception of a single 
individual, who desired it placed upon the minutes, that " he 
could vote for no one who had charge of another congrega- 
tion without first consulting that congregation to know if 
they were willing to dissolve the connection.'' 
He thus wrote : 

"I preached three times yesterday to very full congregations and at 
night to an enormous audience. My charity sermon brought a very 
large collection. It may please you to know I have met with great ap- 
plause, I pray God, with spiritual success. I have soothed my lonely 
feelings by writing the following lines : 

TO MY WIFE. 
Afar from thee, the morning breaks, 

But morning brings no joy to me ; 
Alas ! ray spirit only wakes 

To know I am afar from thee — 
In dreams I sa,w thy blessed face. 

And thou wast nestled on my breast ; 
In dreams I felt thy loved embrace, 

And to mine own thy heart was pressed. 

Afar from thee ! 'tis solitude, 

Though smiling crowds around me be, 

The kind, the beautiful, the good. 
But I can only think of thee ; 

Of thee, the kindest, loveliest, best, 
My earliest and my only one ; 

Without thee, I am all unblest. 
And Avholly blest with thee alone. 

Afar from thee ! The words of praise 

My listless ears unheeded greet; 
What sweetest seemed in better days. 



SQ MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUXE, D. D. 

Without thee seems no longer sweet; 
The dearest joy fame can bestow, 

Is in thy moistened eye to see, 
And in thy cheeks' unusual glow, 

Thou deemest me not unworthy thee. 

Afar from thee ! The night is come, 

But slumbers from my pillows flee; 
I cannot rest so far from home, 

And my heart's home is, love, with thee. 
I kneel before the throne of prayer, 

And then I know that tliou art nigh, 
For God, who seeth everywhere. 

Bends on us both his watchful eye. 

Together in his loved embrace, 

No distance can our hearts divide ; 
Forgotten quite the mediate space, 

I kneel thy kneeling form beside ; 
My tranquil frame then sinks to sleep, 

But soars the spirit far and free; 
Oh welcome be night's slumbers deep, 

For then, dear love, I am with thee." 

During this winter Mr. B. stood as godfather for the son of 
Mrs. McCullister. He made him a special subject of prayer 
on Sabbath evenings, asking that he might become a Minister 
of the Gospel. The prayer is answered and he is the be- 
loved pastor of a large congregation in San Francisco. 

The Charleston congregation was treated with great cour- 
tesy and candor. Their offer was taken into respectful con- 
sideration ; the facts not concealed, which rendered a decis- 
ion difiScult. When the call to Utica was renewed soon 
after, and the northern clergyman thought it a more advan- 
tageous oiSfer for him, his southern friends had nothing to 
complain of in his course. 



THE CHURCH AT UTICA. 87 

A clergyman's profession makes him fit to stand before 
kings and mean men alike, and in this fact, and in the fulfil- 
ment of his duty, he finds his reward for toil and exposure. 
But this world's goods are none the less acceptable for that. 
A present of three hundred dollars was made to the young 
pastor by his Savannah congregation, as a token of their re- 
gard for his person, and their estimation of his talents, and 
probably imparted equal pleasure to the giver and the re- 
ceiver. Indeed a firm attachment appears to have subsisted 
between the minister and his people, and so much kindness 
was shewn to Mr. Betlmne by the men of the south gener- 
ally, as fully to account for a certain tenderness of feeling 
which he entertained for them when the war first broke out. 

The Utica congregation have made up their minds finally 
as to the man they desire for pastor, and from that man 
the}' will not take no for an answer. Their church is not 
yet formed, and they will have but one man to form it. 
Their church is not yet dedicated, and Vaej will have the 
same man to dedicate it. "We have appointed the third 
Thursday of this month (June, 1830), for the dedication 
of the church of Utica,^' writes John F. Schermerhorn, 
"and we expect you there on the occasion, and wish that 
you supply the pulpit on the Sabbath following.'' The 
church is duly dedicated on the day fixed. The " edifice is 
the neatest and most tasty building of its kind that can be 
seen, the congregation quadruple what our most sanguine 
friends could have anticipated, and we have succeeded in 
procuring a chorister of the best abilities for his ofBce, so 
that everj^thing looks fair." 

G. W. B. TO Mrs. J. B. "Utica, July 8, 1830. 

My Dear Mother : I should have vrritten before this, but time after 

time have been prevented by my multitudinous concerns. Not that my 



88 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

parish is so large as to occupy much of my time in visiting, as I can see 
my -whole flock in one day. But the commencement of my Sabbath 
School Bible Class etc., has swallowed me up. By the way, my school 
does well. Seven of my men gave me ten dollars each to establish it. 
I have now sixty scholars, and we have only met once. 

My church promises fairly as yet ; although, of course, the experiment 
is only begun, but my congregation increases every day very evidently. 
We have no quarrel with any one, and will try to permit no one to have 
any quarrel with us. 

Honesty is our policy — plain, open-handed honesty ; a policy the God 
of truth will own and bless. 

You will be gratified by hearing that the Scotch people gather about 
me. They say : ' There 's something about these ither churches 
we dunna like ; but ye are mair like our ain fouk at hame.' They do 
not understand Hopkinsianism, can't make out what they would be at. 
One of them was particularly pleased with one sermon of mine. He 
could not tell how it was, but it ran more like the sermons he used to 
love. I knew the reason. I had carried the doctrine of substitution and 
suretj^ship in a strong vein throughout." 

" Utica, Ji/Zy 28, 1830. 

You will be pleased to hear that thus far we are doing very well. The 
pews are not sold, and will not be if we can avoid it, our wishes being to 
rent or lease them. I cannot therefore say who my congregation will be. 
It is however ascertained that a very good number, and among them the 
choice people of the town, certainly intend to join us. "We have our 
opponents as we expected. Their attacks, however, they have not dared 
to make openly ; but insidious attempts, to impede if not fi'ustrate our 
designs, have not been wanting. As yet, thanks to our good God, we 
have been enabled to walk so circumspectly as to give no occasion for 
open censure ; and the worse charges against me you will not be dis- 
pleased to learn are, ' Triangularism,' * and others similar. 

It is my firm conviction that this church may be instrumental in doing 
much good, not only as a centre for extensive missionary operations of 



* A theological term of the day, derived from n book called '* The Triangle," and 
signifying high-toned Calvinism. 



MINISTERriU:^ TRIALS. 89 

our own church, but to the people of this village. It has already had 
the effect of allaying the bitterness of party rancor among other churcli- 
es, and I hope may be an ark to preserve the law of the Lord entire, 
amid the flood of false zeal and falser doctrine by which we are surround- 
ed. Already have they endeavoured to leave us out from the charitable 
enterprises of the day, by cautiously excluding my men and myself from 
ail offices and even committees ; but the effect of their schemes has been 
neutralised by our willingness to work among the lowest, and to give 
with the highest, and already my little church has taken a stand among 
the most energetic and liberal in tliis section of country." 

The climate of Utica was too severe for Mrs. Bethune's 
health^ and another southern trip became necessary. 

"Utica, October 5, 1830. 

The communication to go south tliis winter and to leave Utica, has 
driven my friends here to apparent and I believe real despair. They 
thmk that it will be the death blow to the church and to all the efforts 
in the cause of truth here. 

They appear to acknowledge the necessity of Mary's having a south- 
ern winter, but had not anticipated my leaving them altogether, and yet, 
if I go to the south, I see not how it can be otherwise. The mariners' 
church is my support if I go, and I cannot take that except I remain 
from November till the end of May ; and then, again, the uncertainty of 
the subsequent winter. This is an important station. I am persuaded 
a congregation can be gathered with the ordinary blessing of Providence, 
if I remain ; and, I believe, I would be paid the sum stipulated. I also 
think that I have opportunities of improvement here, and a fair opening 
for establishing my reputation in the Christian community. At the same 
time there are many difficulties in the way. 

I do not wish tliis enterprise to fail. I believe it to be intimately con- 
nected with the cause of sound truth. I know not what to do. Dark- 
ness and doubt rest upon the future. I have thought and prayed, and 
yet I am in darkness. These people afflict me. The cause which has 
somehow become entangled with me, afflicts me. Do write to me 
speedily, decidedly and at large, and excuse my indecision." 



90 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

Answer to the above from New York : — 

*' My Dear George : You imposed a hard task upon me, and 
as it is always better to take time to consider and pray for direction, 
I have not answered as speedily as perhaps you wished. Yesterday 
■was our communion Sabbath, and you and your concerns were upon my 
mind. This forenoon I received a letter from Mr. Schermerhorn, lay- 
ing not only the Dutch church, but the prosperity or ruin of his family 
upon the advice I shall give you, with a variety of appeals to my con- 
science. The words which came to my mind while reading his letter 
were those which the parents of the blind man said, *' He is of age ask 
him." He proposes that if it is necessary Mary should go south, that 
you should remain and she go with a companion ; or that you should go 
and return early in the spring. I presume you have heard all his argu- 
ments. . . . You may make a virtue of necessity, and consent to be 
installed in Utica, even though Mary's health render your going south 
necessary. But there is another circumstance which makes Utica less 
desirable to me. Many say that you are killing yourself. I called at 
Jersey City to see the Colonel and Mrs. Varick. He told me it would 
never do for you to labor so hard, that although you were doing a great 
deal of good, it was more than flesh and blood could stand. I must 
therefore beg, and if I dare, insist, that you do not preach more than twice 
on the Sabbath. ... I can give no further advice on the subject. I 
cannot consent to take the blame of all the exertions made to establish a 
Dutch church, and to advance the cause of truth being ruined, as well as 
the temporal prosperity of Mr. Schermerhorn's family. It was no fault 
of either you or me that he put his money into such stock ; and you and 
he both know that I never was quite satisfied that you should go to 
Utica. It has been accompanied by some sacrifices on my part as well 
as on yours." 

In the latter part of October, the church at Utica was 
formed. The fears of the anxious mother regarding* the 
want of a church, and especially of a consistory, proved 
unfounded ; but in a worldly, temporal point of view, tlie 
wise lady's provisions were justified. 



INSTALLATION AT UTICA. ' 91 

TJiG zealous minister writes : — 

"There is an unusual number of young men among us. . . . The 
other folks, the extreme IIojjs, emphatically let us alone, hold no com- 
munion Avith us and pass by on the other side. If there is determined 
opposition against us, (and I fear there is,) it is secret. No charges are 
brought and I am happy to believe none can be ; for whatever unchris- 
tian feeling may have obtained in our hearts none has appeared in our 
acts. The motto I have endeavored to recommend and to practise upon 
is, when persecuted let us bless, when reviled let us revile not again. 
1 am confident that I am in a good school ; caution, prudence, up- 
right walking, the government of the tongue, appear vital in their 
importance." 

The installation at Utica took place on November 7th, 
and on the following Lord's Day he preached his Inaugural 
Discourse from 1 Cor. ii., 2, entitled " The cross of Christ 
the only theme of the Preacher of Truth." This sermon 
gives us the key-note of all his preaching. 

"Your attention will not be diverted from the more important topics 
of eternal interest by the wire-drawn speculations of mere human phil- 
osophy, nor will the plain and simple rules of tlie Christian faith be ob- 
scured and entangled by the metaphysical jargon of modern theology, 
falsely so called. The description of any subject inferior to those of 
eternal interest will be considered profane and insulting in the house of 
God. All amusements or interest here, must be sought and found, not 
in the adornments of style or the playfulness of fancy, but in the grave 
examination of solemn truths and simple illustration of heavenly pre- 
cepts. You will not be assembled on the Sabbath to listen to one who 
hath a pleasant song, or who * can play well upon an instrument,' even 
were it within the compass of your pastor's talents ; but to hear the 
words of truth and soberness. It will be his endeavor not to please the 
itching ear, but to instruct the inquiring soul and warm the pious heart. 
Like the Master, he will seek to draw with the cords of love, rather than 
drive with the scourge of terror. . . . iTidccd, mv beloved friends, the 



92 ME3I0IR OF GEO. W. BETIIUNE, D. D. 

cross of Christ shall be my welcome and continual theme ; and whether the 
rigorous demands of the violated law be thundered, or the sweet accents 
of forgiving love be whispered in your ears, the object will be to bring 
you weeping yet thankful, humble yet confident, to the feet of the 
crucified Hope of Israel, xis the herald of His cross, the preacher of 
His gospel, the messenger of His love, never will your pastor descend 
from the sacred elevation until he hath pointed it out as the rest of 
the weary, the refuge of the condemned and the shelter of the lost." 

In the evening there was an ''Exhortation to prayer for 
the peace of Jerusalem." Both these discourses were pub- 
lished at the request of the people. 

Nothing can be clearer than that our pastor had a most 
arduous and difficult task in building up the church in Utica. 

Ilovey K. Clarke, Esq., who was one ofthe earliest converts 
under Mr. B.'s ministry at Utica, and had been engaged in 
the founding of the church, kept up a continual correspond- 
ence with the man whose life we endeavor faithfully to set 
forth. He has furnished much interesting matter from meui- 
ory and his own papers. We quote his statements : 

*' This Church had then been recently organized and was, in some 
degree, the result of a condition of religious opinion existing there ; 
especially among those who accepted the Calvinistic standards of faith, 
with, nevertheless, such differences in their belief as would scarcely 
fail to be considered as of vital importance. 

About three years before, the Rev. Mr. Finney had, during an entire 
winter, preached almost every evening in the First Presbyterian 
Church. That his preaching was attended by the power of the Spirit 
of God there can be no question, as numerous conversions abundantly 
testified ; conversions which after the lapse of nearly forty years still 
attest their divine origin. But the sentiment prevailing in that locality 
gave such prominence to the doctrines preached by Mr. Finney and 
the practices employed by him as efficient Instrumentalities in the 
work of conversion, that to oppose the "new measures" or to doubt 



DIFFICULTIES. 93 

their wisdom, was regarded as assuming a position of opposition to a 
manifest work of grace. Those to whom this position was assigned 
could not but regard Mr. Finney's preaching as a departure from the 
standards of the Church in which he was ordained; and his measiu-es 
as unscriptural and therefore dangerous in their tendencies. But it 
was a fearful responsibility to seem to oppose a revival. It was easy 
to sail with the stream which seemed to bear on its bosom the glad 
fruits of numerous conversions to God. New measures were popular, 
and those who could not adopt them nor approve the doctrines, of 
which they were in some respects the outgrowth, were compelled to 
silence or to seek other religious associations. Such influences as 
these, combining with others which are seldom wanting on such occa- 
sions, resulted in the organization of the church to which Mr. Bethune 
was now called to be the Pastor. 

It is not surprising that he found himself, to some extent, in a field 
of controversy. He had a new church to organize and build up ; a 
church harmonious in all the substantial of its faith, and yet, if not 
discordant in the materials of which it was composed, as it certainly 
was not, it was nevertheless not perfectly harmonious. 

He was not long moreover in making the sad discovery that there 
were those to whose recognition as a welcome fellow-laborer in the same 
service he might have supposed himself entitled, who regarded him as 
the representative of a dead orthodoxy — one whose qualifications for 
usefulness might be derided and whose influence might be crippled 
without offence to the cause of evangelical rehgion. Under such cir- 
cumstances and environed by an atmosphere of prejudice did this young 
minister carry on his labors at Utica. His two sermons on the day of 
his inauguration have already been referred to. The inaugural itself 
most significantly indicated the defensive attitude which the preacher 
felt himself obliged to maintain by its frec[uent references to the 
Heidelberg and the Westminster Confessions. A note printed on tlie 
cover of the pamphlet which contained these discourses further indi- 
cates the personal hostility to which he was in some measure subjected. 

As an appeal to the Christian public to be treated with Christian 
courtesy it is well remembered by those who sympathized with the 
author on the occasion of it. It was as follows : 



94 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

" The author of these sheets is not without information that his the- 
ological opinions have been grossly misrepresented, and that he has 
been designated by opprobrious names, ' Triangular,' * Antinomian,' 
* A preacher of smooth things,' &c. His every discourse is a refuta- 
tion of such charges, but such refutation is of no avail against their cen- 
sure who condemn without hearing. He hopes these misrepresenta- 
tions have been unintentional, and he assures all who have made them, 
of his earnest endeavor, by God's grace, to forgive the deepest injury he 
can suffer from man, the diminution of his usefulness in his Master's 
cause. He would fain forget what he has heard, as unfavorable to the 
cultivation of that high esteem in which he would hold the followers 
of the same kind and heavenly Master. To be altogether silent, 
however, would be to permit the circumscription of his ministerial in- 
fluence. For the sake, therefore, of the truth he advocates, he has 
been induced to publish the foregoing discourses as an exhibition of 
his creed ; though his youth, in other circumstances, would have ex- 
horted him to retirement. He again declares that his creed is to be 
found in the books of his Church and those of the Presbyterian 
Church, in whose schools he was educated, and to whose ministry he 
was ordained, though subsequently, from deliberate preference, he en- 
tered the communion of the Reformed Dutch Church. If, therefore, 
he differs from any one, it is because that person differs from the 
standards of faith above referred to. 

He is not ashamed of association with the many mighty men, since 
the Reformation, who have held the doctrines he holds by whatever 
name calumny may stigmatize them. He frankly acknowledges a dis- 
like to the disposition of those who ' spend their time in nothing else 
but either to tell or to hear some new thing,' but loves sound, con- 
sistant, stable doctrine. His desire is 'to live in charity with all men,' 
especially * with the household of faitb ; ' and he asks for that charity in 
return ' which thinketh no evil,' without palpable evidence, and his 
reliance is upon Him, ' who endured the contradiction of sinners 
against himself,' and who ' when reviled, reviled not again.'" 

To illustrate the nature of the controversies then disturbing 



CONTROVERSIES. 95 

the church, and Mr. Bethune's position, we quote a letter of 
Mr. Clarke : 

" Canandaigua, Sept. 21, 1831. 

Mr Dear Pastok : — Nohvithstanding our separation, I shall per- 
sist in preserving the relation of Pastor and Parishioner between us, 
and although our intercourse will be seriously interupted, still, I trust 
that the pastoral visits of your pen will be neither 'few nor far be- 
tween.' 

As you anticipated I find in Mr. some things difierent from what 

I found in you^ but what they are I am not able, clearly, to define. He 
will occasionally flash off from the pulpit a sentence, which from his 
tone, manner and emphasis, evidently is intended for the Dutchman of 

his congregation, or rather, as Mrs. styles me, the ♦ Consistory of the 

Dutch Church about to be established here.' On the first Sabbath that 

Mr. resumed the duties of his pulpit (three weeks since), he made 

a remark of this kind, viz : that he believed the Atonement to be suffici- 
ent for the salvation of millions of Avorlds and not merely efficient for the 
salvation of those that believe ; this being so palpably an imitation of your 
language when expressing the contrary to the sentiment contained in the 
latter clause, that it needs no seer to explain to whom he pointed, espe- 
cially when taken in connection with a remark he made to a gentleman 
(who resides near here) in my presence, and probably intended for my 

ear. On Mr. S. enquiring of Mr. if 'Mr. Bethune could induce 

all his people to believe with him in a limited Atonement : ' ' Oh,' 
said he, * Brother Bethune satisfies them by saying it is sufficient for all 

and efficient for the elect.' Again Mrs. says, for I have conversed 

more with her upon these subjects, that you are a Triangular. Now, I 
am so innocently ignorant of the virtues and the vices of a Triangular, 
that I am ready to say Avith the Irish horse-jockey, who was asked if his 
horse were spavined, ' Och, sure he is, if that's any advantage to him.' " 

On the 9th of January, 1832, Mr. Clarke thanks his 
correspondent for his views upon the nature and extent 
of the Atonement, and says that they appear more rea- 
sonable and consistent than any thing heretofore heard 



96 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

upon it. These views are contained in a letter which, to 
our great chagrin, is not forthcoming. It would be cheaply 
purchased with ten or fifteen pounds of the paper stock 
which has come safely to hand. Mr. Clarke writes again 

May 7. 

" By the way, of this same limited Atonement I am excessively desir- 
ous of knowing whether the doctrine we profess, namely, the sufficiency 
of the merits of the death of Christ for the salvation of all, and its effi- 
ciency to the salvation of the elect, is the doctrine of the ' limited 
Atonement.' The idea that I have received here of it is that Christ weighed 
out, as it were, with scrupulous exactness, the amount of sin committed, 
or that would be committed by the elect, and by his sufferings atoned for 
that and no more. And that could we know who the elect were, we 
should have no right to offer salvation to any but to them. Can it be 
tliat this is the doctrine wliich so many eminent men have not been 
ashamed to avow ? For fear that it should be, I will not in my ignorance 
of the doctrines of tlie Bible with all their collateral bearings, presume 
to impeach their wisdom. But really, if it is so, the innumerable invita- 
tions that are given in the Bible, to all, to ' come and partake of the Avaters 
of life freely,' appear to me very like a farce. God offering salvation to 
lost men, through Christ, to all, when he has made provision for only a 
part ! It appears to me perfectly consistent with the character of God 
to offer salvation to all through an atonement, the merits of which, so 
far as it relates to their sufficiency, are infinite ; although he knows that a 
majority will absolutely refuse to have that atonement made efficient in 
their salvation. But then means were provided and salvation offered ; and 
man, in the free exercise of his moral agency, refused. I am Aveli aware 
that my notions upon this subject are crude, and perhaps contradictory. 
It is for this reason that I am now consulting my proper spiritual adviser. 
I am also well aware that the weapon which many tliink proper to wield, 
and which they do at times with singular force, is ridicule. A doctrine 
of which, though they disbelieve it, a correct portrait might present 
some points favourable to belief; they choose rather to render odious, 
by making an infamous caricature. However I am thankful that I can 
adopt Got. Granger's motto, ' Lux, Lex et Libertas.* Light to show me 



THE ATONEMENT. 97 

what the Law or doctrine is, and the Liberty of conscience to exercise my 
own belief, notwithstanding I am in a hot-bed of opposition." 

The answer to the above is to be found passim in the writ- 
ings of Dr. Bethune. In lecture xvii. on the Heidelberg 
Catechism, we read — pp. 358 et seq : 

"But our Lord stood not in tJie room of a single sinner; he bore the 
sins of many, and heaven opened to us by the vision of John, shows a 
mighty host redeemed unto God by his blood. Hence his sufferings 
were incalculably more than the sufferings of any one mere man could 
have been. For though we unhesitatingly, and not without horror, 
reject the idea that his sufferings were weighed out to him in exact pro- 
portion to the sufferings wliich every individual of all he redeemed, 
would otherwise have actually suffered ; we must see that they needed to 
be so great as to justify God in taking away his wrath from all the 
Sa\iour's people. It was, among other reasons, for the purpose of 
strengthening our Lord's humanity to endure this accumulated aggre- 
gation of suffering, that it was constituted in union with the Divme 
Nature, which also gave to his sufferings their infinite value. So the 
Catechism says that he sustained the wrath of God against the sins of 
all mankind. 

This last sentence requires some little explanation, lest its meaning 
should be misunderstood, and we shall give it conformably to the com- 
ments of the learned and pious Ursinus, the author of the Catechism, 
and therefore the best expositor of its sense. The idea of the sentence 
is that of several scriptures, as where our Lord declares that ' God so 
loved the world ' as to give liis only begotten son ; and the writer to the 
Hebrews, that Christ tasted death for every man ; and Paul that he gave 
himself a ransom for all ; and John ' that he is a propitiation for our sins, 
and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.' Yet 
Scripture must be read in harmony with itself, and as we know that all 
men are not actually saved, but only those who through grace being 
ordained to eternal life do believe and repent, it cannot be that our Lord 
bore the wrath of God against the sins of the whole world in the same 
sense or degree that he bore it in the room of his people. They were 
actually redeemed by his blood, he having taken the penalty they de- 
7 



98 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

served on himself so that their satisfaction was certainly secured by 
his Ticarious satisfaction ; but the rest of mankind, though they have so 
far as the gospel is preached to them opportunities of salvation, are con- 
demned to death eternal without violence being done to the covenant of 
the Son with the Father in the plan of. salvation. 

Thus Christ died for all mankind, because in him the blessings of sal- 
vation are not confined, as were those of the Abrahamic dispensation, to 
one particular people. The gospel is sent throughout all the world, to 
be preached to every creature, and whosoever will, be he a Jew or Gen- 
tile, may take of the water of life freely. As several of the later fathers 
following Tertullian phrase it, EQs merits are sufficient for all, but effi- 
cient for the elect. And Aquinas, whom the Papists call the Angelical 
Doctor, teaches, 'The merit of Christ, as concerns its sufficiency, 
equally belongs to all men ; but as to its efficacy, the effects and fruits 
of it are mercifully bestowed on some, and, by the just judgment of God, 
withheld from others.' Nor can tliis be otherwise, since it were prepos- 
terous to ma,ke Christ the substitute of those that refuse his representa- 
tion. But it is, on the other hand, positively true, that the benefits of 
Christ's merit do actually, though not in a saving degree^ extend to all 
men ; because for the sake of Christ all temporal mercies come to all, 
and the world is kept by his intercession from becoming a hell of ex- 
treme torture and despair ; and very precious blessings, though not the 
most precious, are bestowed on mankind through the restraining influ- 
ence of Christianity and the light which it sheds on every mind wherever 
the healing beams of the Sun of Eighteousness sliine. It is enough for 
us to know that, if we believe in Christ with our whole heart, his merit 
will certainly save us ; but if we refuse the grace he offi^rs, not all the 
mercy of God in Christ warrants the slightest ho]pe of escape from ever- 
lasting death." 

We add a passage from another sermon on quite a differ- 
ent subject, " The Strength of Christian Charity." 

" The grace of God is infinite in the merits of Christ, the Saviour, for 
they are the merits of God incarnate. It was the Son of God who walked 
in all the duties of man. Who dare limit the reward of his obedience ? 



CALLS. 99 

It was the Son of God who dwelt in the sufferer when he drank the cup 
of trembling, when it pleased the Father to bruise him and to put him to 
grief, and wlien, pouring out his soul unto death, he cried, ' It is fin- 
ished.' "Who dare limit the power of his atonement ? It was the Son of 
God who burst the bars of death and cleft the heavens for the upward 
way of the man Christ Jesus, ' to make continual intercession for us,' 
not as a suppliant kneeling at his Father's feet, but as a Son and a Prince, 
the true Israel sitting at the right hand of the Majesty on high. Who 
dare limit the efficiency of his prayers ? " 

" Other calls will not be wanting," said Mrs. J. Bethune 
in the letter to her son touching the removal to Utica. To 
show how true this was, let us state that in the five years 
Avhich elapsed from his entering the ministry to February, 
1831, there came to him of official calls, or what might have 
been such, eight. To Savannah, to St. Augustine, to St. Mary's, 
to Rhinebeck, to Utica, to the Market St. Church, K Y.— 
This last was most earnestly backed by the letter of his 
friend John Redfield. 

But his heart was given to Utica, and every art of ingenu- 
ity was employed that could increase his usefulness and 
strengthen the Church. During the early part of 1831, great 
attention was paid to the young ; and the professors and great 
lights of the Dutch denomination were introduced into his 
pulpit to advance the cause of sound doctrine. 

Mrs. J. B. to her son, October 29, 1831. In this letter we 
have notice of an early and well-known poetical efibrt. 

"I have been writing and getting printed a lesson on the Mariner's 
Compass. I read it to Mr, Seaton, and next day he wrote me a note 
saying there was a beautiful Hymn in the ' Lyra,' which he thought 
would suit to close it. I sent for it and lo and behold, it was yours : 

* Tossed on life's tempestuous billow.' 

I bought the Seaman's Hymn Book to get it. I had, however, pre- 
pared one myself which, although not so poetical, is more suitable." 



100 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

SAILOR'S HYMN. 

*' Tossed upon life's raging billow, 

Sweet it is, O, Lord, to know 
Thou hast pressed a sailor's pillow, 

And canst feel a sailor's woe. 
Never slumbering, never sleeping. 

Though the night be dark and drear, 
Thou, the faithful watch art keeping, 

' All, all's well ! ' thy constant cheer. 

And though loud the wind is howling, 

Fierce, though flash the lightnings red, 
Darkly, though the storm cloud's scowling, 

O'er the sailor's anxious head ; 
Thou canst calm the raging ocean, 

All its noise and tumult still, 
Hush the billow's wild commotion. 

At the bidding of thy will. 

Thus my heart the hope will cherish. 

While to heaven I lift mine eye. 
Thou wilt save me ere I perish. 

Thou wilt hear me when I cry ; 
And, though mast and sail be riven. 

Life's short voyage soon be o'er. 
Safely moored in Heaven's wide haven. 

Storms and tempests vex no more." 

We are at a loss to imagine how the Editor of the very 
popular " Songs of the Sanctuary" came to insert this hymn 
under the number 1322 as " anonymous." His taste in this 
direction is faultless and we cannot believe that he had seen 
the original, or the amendments upon Dr. Bethune would 
scarcely have been permitted. The alteration, we admit, is 
for the better, and yet question the propriety of even such a 
change. We want the master's work as he left it. Men 
may copy a picture, but it is a shame to retouch it. 



LETTERS. 101 

G. W. B. TO Mrs. J. B. '* Utica, Novemher 25, 1831. 

My congregation is in a very quiet state, too much so I fear. My 
heart, rather desponding, probably owing to bodily indisposition. I 
find my duties exceedingly arduous. The Lord, however, is, I trust, 
my everlasting strength. I am charmed with the Inf\int School lessons 
■which appear from week to week in the Messenger. I read them all, 
and believe that I receive benefit from them." 

Answer to the above, 28th Nov. 

" New York, Novemher 28, 1831. 
My Beloved Son: — I have this day yours of 25th instant, and 
grieve to hear that you are not well, either in body or mind. How could 
you fly about when you had so heavy a cold? Mr. Nasmith told me you 
were out at the meeting when you were very unwell. I pray God to re- 
store you and spare your precious life. I often tremble when I think 
how many of your companions have already finished their course and I 
cry out, 0, that my son might be spared and live before God. O, George, 
for your poor, solitary, widowed mother's sake, for your dear Mary's 
sake, two at least, whose comfort in this world is wrapt up in you, take 
care of yourself. My darling son, my heart is pained and my eyes over- 
flow when I write; would that I could fly to you and hold your aching 
head and cheer your desponding heart. I hope you are not so bad as 
my fears represent. O, my son, look to Jesus for strength, where alone 
it can be found. Eemember him who endured. In hiui is abundant 
fulness for all you want. I wish you would give up one service on the 
Sabbath. It is too much." 

" Iron sharpeneth iron, so a man sharpeneth the counte- 
nance of his friend." 

" A man " (aye every inch) writes from Canajoharie, 16th 
April, to " his friend" in Utica. 

" My Dear Brother :— I received yournote of invitation yesterday — 
and at first I almost imagined myself reading the 'Lamentations of 
Jeremiah.' What is the matter? Is your church in a state of dilapida- 
tion, or had vou got a little touch of the hyp ? Your station is undoubt- 



102 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

edly one of great importance and the prosperity of your church will 
exert an extensive influence upon the surrounding churches. It must, in 
time, become the Metropolis of the "West. But, '■Nil desperandum,'' 
Eome was not built in a day. Neither your Master in heaven nor the 
church on earth expect that you will do more than your thought and 
abilities enable you to do. Preach Christ and Him crucified, and if in 
the end the ship is wrecked and the cargo lost you may cling to some 
floating plank and escape — or if you all founder together — your 
' hands will be clean from the blood of all men.' But report says that 
your church is flourishing — increasing in numbers — in popularity — in 
influence, and that your labors are highly acceptable to the people and 
signally blessed of God. I cannot subscribe to one sentence of your let- 
ter — ' that the Ministry of the church should appear to advantage in 
Utica.' They should be the faithful heralds of Salvation — the world 
over — wherever they go they should be about their ' Father's business' 
and, in Utica and every other place, leave the impression upon the minds 
of all — that they watch for souls as they who must give an account. If, 
as a church, we had far less of the spirit of unhallowed rivalry and vast- 
ly more of the self-denj'ing and self-sacrificing spirit of Paul, the smiles 
of Heaven would shine upon us more brightly. But Utica has seen the 
very flower of the flock, the very quintessence of Dutch Reformed 
celebrity, the choice spirits of the day. Did not our men of renov^u 
come all the way up the Hudson and the Mohawk to edify, astonish and 
delight the inhabitants of these western wilds by their wisdom and their 
eloquence? Now, if the citizens of Utica are not deeply impressed with 
the conviction, that the Dutch Church abounds in talent of the first 
water, Pauls and ApoUoses, then they must be stupid as oxen and ig- 
norant as asses ; or if these Anakims have failed to leave such an im- 
pression, what can such little men as compose the Classis of Montgom- 
ery do? Kansford Wklls." 

Tliis little correspondence speaks for itself. 

It may be well to quote entire a specimen of our minister's 
style of pastoral letter-writing in 1831, in order to a compari- 
son with bis later efforts of the same kind. 

To Miss S. B. M. and M. A. V. '' Utica, 1831. 

My Dear Young Ladies : — It is long since I promised myself the 



A pastor's letter. 103 

pleasure of addressing you — and more than once have I commenced a 
ietter, but have been called away from the pleasing engagement by the 
many and various duties of my arduous office. 

To say that I miss you is but poorly to express the reality. My heart 
goes after my absent lambs whenever I am reminded of your absence — 
I miss you from the church, the lecture room and the prayer- meeting, 
where you were over glad to be — I miss you from the choir which you 
joined at my request — I miss you from the Sabbath scliool, to whose 
establishment and success you contributed so largely — I miss you from 
tlie Bible class, where you were ever attentive and well-informed — I 
miss you from your homes where you ever welcomed me with pleasure 
— I miss you in my walks where I so often met your smiling faces — I 
do not forget you, my sweet young friends — but many a prayer is sent 
up to God on your behalf, as well from the meetings of God's saints as 
from my lonely study. 

I thank God, that though absent from me, I can bring you in my faith to 
Him who is everywhere present, and rejoice in hopes that the Shepherd 
of Israel will watch my precious lambs. 

I am very anxious for your welfare — your advantages are, indeed, 
many — but many also are your temptations. Eemember the first, the 
highest object of your desire should be ' the Kingdom of God and His 
righteousness.' All things else will be vain without this blessing. And 
all tilings else that are truly profitable will be added to it. You cannot 
have forgotten how earnestly and repeatedly, I endeavored to impress 
this upon your minds, neither can you have forgotten how seriously for 
a considerable time at least, it occupied your thoughts. May I hope 
that it is still the object of your care? 

Have not your new pursuits changed the current of your thoughts to 
other channels ? Have not new companions, new amusements, and new 
cares distracted your thoughts of God ? Let me entreat you to guard 
against these dangers. The soul, the soul, my young friends, the undy- 
ing soul, what can compensate for its loss ! Make that your first care, 
and all other cares subservient. Let me earnestly request you to com- 
mence and close each day with private and personal devotion. I know 
you will have difficulties in the way : the want of sufficient privacy and 
punctual regard to necessary regulations of your school. But where 
there is a will, God generally grants a way. When I speak of devotion, 



104 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

I do not mean merely prayer. Other duties are necessary to give prayer 
its proper character and efficacy. Self-examination for the past, and 
arrangement for the future will be found necessary to teach you gratitude 
and repentance, and the need of counsel and strength from on high. 

* Sum up at night what you have done by day, 
And in the morning what thou hast to do.' 
Then read a portion of Scripture ; it need not be long, indeed had better 
be short. Consider well its meaning ; meditate upon its practical 
lessons ; apply them to yourselves. Then, with a heart thus prepared, 
you may pray with profit, for you will pray with the understanding. Es- 
pecially ask God's blessing upon your studies and pursuits. If unsanc- 
tified by Divine grace, they will prove curses and not blessings. If pos- 
sible, have one text upon which to meditate during the day. Above all, 
cultivate repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Clu-ist. 
Thus living, you will live with God, to God, in God, and God will live 
in you. 

I will write you, I hope, soon again, but shall expect an answer to 
prove my letters are welcome. Mrs. B. is enjoying very good health, 
for her, and sends her warm love to you. All our other friends are 
well. Yours aflfectionately, 

Geo. "W. Bethune." 

In the summer of 1832 the city of Utica had a terrible vis- 
itation of the Cholera. The wealthy citizens deserted the 
place and nearly all the ministers of religion fled, Mr. Be- 
thune being one of two faithful exceptions. Projects of aid 
to the sick and dying were formed but there were none to 
execute them, and much of the work devolved on the minis- 
ters themselves. Our pastor was indefatigable. One day 
going his rounds he found a person sitting on a bridge with 
strong symptoms of the cholera, and asked, " Can I help 
you home ?" The poor man gasped, '' I have been turned 
out to die.'' Kind arms were put around him and he was 
borne to the parsonage. The physician said, " We will have 
hard work to save him;" but the case yielded to active treat- 



THOMAS BUCHANAN. 105 

ment, and the pains ceased. He proved to be a clergyman, 
who had come to visit a brother, but not finding him had 
put up at the hoteL Feeling in the night that he was ill, 
and calling for help, he was ordered to leave the house ; and 
he laid down to die with anxiety lest it should be thought 
that his death was caused by drink, as his breath was strong 
with brandy, taken for his disease. Many expressions of 
gratitude were given by this discijile of Christ for the merci- 
ful kindness shown to a stranger. For three months the 
plague lasted. 

Several meetings were held in behalf of the Colonization 
cause, at which appeared a young man in a homespun white 
coat, who, by his sensible remarks and deep interest, attracted 
general attention, but none knew him. After a while White- 
coat presented to Mr. Bethune a letter of introduction, recom- 
mending him as a pious young man, desiring to enter the 
ministry, but without means of support. The liberal pastor 
at once became his patron, offered him a home and the use of 
his library, and he became a pleasant member of the family. 
White-coat proved to be Thomas Buchanan. He followed 
Mr. Bethune to Philadelphia, but there abandoned the purpose 
of the ministry, and became the zealous and wise Governor 
of Liberia, and laid broad and deep the foundations of the 
African Republic. Such flowers of charity made beautiful 
all the path of our minister. 

Mr. Buchanan died at Bassa Cove, in Sept., 1841. His pas- 
tor grieved for him as a brother, and exclaimed, " I regard my 
early and intimate acquaintance with Buchanan as one of the 
chief blessings for which I should give thanks to God." At 
the request of the Colonization Society, Dr. Bethune pre- 
pared a Memorial of his life and death, which has been pre- 
served. 
Returning now to his private life, we find him longing after 



106 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

and rejoicing at the prospect of a wider S23here of action. A 
plan is proposed by his friend Varick of building a large 
church for him in New York. He revels in the idea of a 
"metropolitan post away from the pettiness of a village life," 
and where his " time would not be cut all to pieces with tri- 
fling engagements." As this plan never went into realization, 
we need not discuss it ; but it elicits a valuable letter to his 
mother, on the 13th December, 1832, in which remarks upon 
this matter and family affairs are so mixed up as to make the 
above brief abstract all that can with propriety be placed here. 
" But he was writing to his mother," as he fondly says. 

The months pass on. He is written to for sermons to pub- 
lish in a volume for the use of sailors at sea. 

Dr. Spencer asks for advice on the question, whether he shall 
assume the Presidency of Hamilton College. His house is 
not comfortable, and he would fain buy a new one for 86000. 
He is urged by his mother to commence the memoir of his 
father, in order that she may aid him in it before she " de- 
camps over Jordan." 

He suffers from illness and consequent depression of spirits, 
thinks " his prospects of usefulness are very dark, and the 
fondness for nature, for which he was so well known, is his 
comfort in this every-day annoyance, and for which he gets 
so little sympathy. 

About this date, too, occurred an event which brought 
great trial upon the minister's future life. A severe fall in the 
street occasioned injury to Mrs. Bethune, from which she 
never recovered, rendering her a confirmed invalid, and 
often a great sufferer. 

On the 28th October, 1833, he writes: 

" It is now more than autumn with us, it is almost winter, and would 
be quite so in any other climate. The air to-day has been filled with 



TWENT Y-E rOHT . 107 

snow, which melted as it fell. I can only enjoy the scene from my win- 
dow, but the leafless trees and the sombre sky, with all their melancholy 
accompaniments, though sad and soothing, seem to have a common 
sympathy; at least I am sure I love tliis season better than I could 
spring. I am becoming very fond of nature ; it has a good influence 
on me. I am persuaded there is more of conscience than of romance in 
my awakened fondness for tliis first book of the Creator's hand. I think 
(I may be deceived, but I do think) my desire for doing good to my fel- 
loAv-men increases, and my love to my race increases, but I have cer- 
tainly much less fondness for society (as such) than I have had. I find 
it more than made up in nature, my books, and communion with my 
God. We are so liable to be misunderstood and hardly judged in our 
most aflfectionate attempts to serve others." 

Again he wiites : 

"I am getting on in years, — twenty-eight ! and what have I done? 
Alas ! how much of life is made up of littlenesses and trifles, seemingly 
of importance at the moment, but as notliing in the retrospect. Tlie 
ambitions, the jealousies, the strifes and the formalities of time, how do 
they keep the mind from eternity. And even we who are set apart for 
the altar, how much time is spent in mere professional arrangements, — 
making new theories and combating them, — contending and intriguing 
for power. Eternity ! It seems as if that one word were enough to 
check all such vain imaginations. I have no wonder that more people 
become not Christians, when the Church busies herself with trifles ; my 
only wonder is, that men do not stumble at our folly, and fall forever. 
What will Duffield's big book on Regeneration, and all the pamphlets for 
and against, weigh with one single soul ? For my part I abandon contro- 
versy. I am determined to walk in the plain, obvious path of duty, study- 
ing the Scriptures as a child rather than a pliilosopher, and endeavouring 
to win souls for my Master." 

In the early part of December of this year the information 
of a unanimous call to the church of Poughkeepsie gave a 
tuni to his ideas. Perhaps there was a little wish that was 
father to the thought when he hints that his days of useful- 



108 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. CETHUNE, D. D. 

ness in Utica are over, but the unfailing counsellor in New 
York is ready with her advice. 

''Jan. 6, 1834. 

I have thonght that a church that kept the good man who labored 
twenty-five years among them, with a growing family, on a pittance of 
$ 1000, while they can offer a young one $ 1400, cannot be a very liberal 
people. You would enter upon a people already formed, and habits 
fiscd. They would expect all the attentions they were wont to receive, 
and your popular talents also. You might, indeed, not be under the ne- 
cessity of studying so hard, and use your old sermons, but would that be 
conducive to your own growth in the divine life? Many other tilings 
occur to my mind connected with your query, ' How shall I leave my 
little people ? ' How indeed I A little flock gathered together by your 
instrumentality, for whom I trust you have travailed in birth for their 
souls, who love you for your Master's sake and their own sake, who prize 
your good qualities and make allowance for your faults, who have no 
former pastor to lead them to make comparisons. 

Your next query, ' Who would take my place I know not; ' neither do 
I; but this I know, they would be provided for, as long as these words 
stand in the Bible, ' I will never leave you nor forsake you.' Many of 
them, I know, think the church would go down if you leave them ; they 
trembled at the idea of your leaving them even for the winter. I saw 
Mr. Varick on Friday. He fairly trembled when he asked me if you had 
received the call, adding, ' if he accept it the church will go down.' I 
begged him to write to you ; he said he would be in Utica, D. V., tliis 
week. 

The next tiling you mention, that your days of usefulness are done. 
It is not true. You would not be so popular if they were. There may 
be a dry and dead time, to quicken you to greater diligence ; to lead you 
more to look to Him who alone can direct the arrow of conviction, apply 
the word preached, to build up ; and the balm of Gilead to heal the 
wounded conscience. What cannot prayer do ? As to the other reason, 
' that you would be nearer me,' I have ' not dared to trust my heart ' ; but 
neither that nor salary ought to weigh one moment with you. The for- 
mer, your present people will probably increase 

Your dear father, grandmother, and your own mother * lent you unto the 
Lord all the days of your life,' and solitary as your widowed mother now 



TEMPERANCE MOVEMENTS. 109 

sits, she would not take back the loan, nor interfere by any wish of hers 
to take you from or keep you in any place where the Lord's Avork is to 
be done by you." 

In the year 1833 a discussion took place generally known 
as the "Wine Controversy," in which our minister bore a 
prominent part, and which involved him in much unpleasant- 
ness. At this distance of time we may strive in vain to 
awaken interest in the episode ; but prejudice Avill have died 
away, and as the occasion served to display much of the man, 
and led him to take a position on the great moral ques- 
tion from which he never swerved, we shall, from the faith- 
ful papers before us, draw " a round unvarnished tale," and 

shall 

"Nothing extenuate, 
Nor set down aught in malice.'' 

The Temperance movement was now taking a more radical 
position. Before it had aimed its blow simply at ardent spirits, 
now its advocates would forbid the use of all fermented 
liquors. In November, 1833, Mr. Bethune was, in his 
capacity as chairman of the Young Men's Temperance So- 
ciety of Oneida County, a delegate to the Convention of the 
fiiends of Temperance, held in Utica. In the course of dis- 
cussion, a resolution was offered that the drinking of wine 
and beer, as well as ardent spirits, was noxious, and denounc- 
ed by the sacred writers. Mr. Bethune opposed this resolution 
on grounds of Scripture and expediency. The speech must 
have been eloquent and powerful, as it was feared that it 
would cause the loss of the resolution. It must have possessed 
much asperity, if we judge from the only quotation before us, 
"The drunkard who refuses to give up his liquor because you 
do not give up your wine, is not honest. If he tells you that 
is the reason, he lies." He was answered by Dr. Speed, an- 



110 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

Other delegate, y/ho remarked that it was the young clergy- 
man's own fondness for wine, and his disinclination to give 
up its use, which prompted his opposition. Allusion was made 
to a certain occasion, when the delegate, who just sat down, 
had indulged ia a glass of beer, and an impression was left 
on the mind of the assembly that this kind of indulgence 
was a matter of habit. A common report was also mention- 
ed that the Dutch pastor's table was loaded with different 
kinds of wine. This attack was met, and the assertion pas- 
sionately repudiated by Mr. B. The resolution was indefi- 
nitely postponed by an overwhelming vote, and another pro- 
posed, with special reference to the attack, regretting its 
personal allusions, and censuring its injurious imputations, 
and passed by acclamation. At the close of the meeting, 
the clergyman and physician met on friendly terms, and the 
former proposed, as a peace offering, to join in supplying the 
other's village with the Temperance Recorder. Thus the affair 
ended. But on Nov. 29th, Dr. Speed wrote to Mr. Bethune a 
copious letter, in which he apologizes for the attack, and 
hopes that the two are friends ; and still he reiterates his 
remarks, and supports them by the sayings of others, and 
in fact, opens anew the whole controversy. 

Meanwhile Mr. Bethune addressed E. C. Delavan, Esq., 
protesting against the latter for having '* called the time " to 
arrest him in his passionate disclaimer of the injurious im- 
putation, and requests such statements in the Temperance 
Journal, as shall convince the friends of the writer, that he 
(Mr. D.) regretted the occurence. 

Quickly Mr. Bethune replied to Dr. S., dated Dec. 6, 1833. 

"Allow me to state in commencement that it was not the ridiculous 
charge of taking a glass of beer that drew from me the expression of in- 
dignant feelings ; but the insinuation, nay, broad assertion that it was 



THE WIXE CONTROVERSY. HI 

through unwillingness to abandon the use of wine myself, that I was 
led to oppose the resolution. I had expressly and solemnly stated that 
there existed no such unwillingness on my part. My language, as re- 
ported by the New York Evangelist, was as follows : 

' Sir, I do not plead for the liberty of using wine ; so impressed am I 
with the importance of the Temperance Reformation, that I am willing 
to go the whole if necessary. It would be no sacrifice to me. I confess 
that I do occasionally make use of it, but seldom, however.' Notwith- 
standing this positive and repeated declaration, you did not hesitate to 
lament ' that I could not make so small a sacrifice.' Sir, this represen- 
tation of my motives was charging me with falsehood." 

After denying any use of beer, he proceeds : 

" Now, Sir, can no man differ from you upon a question of expediency 
without guilt or criminal motives ? ]My difficulties are Scriptural and 
remain unanswered and unanswerable. If they are not, why did not 
you or some one else answer them ? Mr. Dwight, of Geneva, said at 
tea, 'that all the argument was upon my side, the only question was 
present expediency.' I have abandoned wine, beer, and cider, myself, 
but do not see how I can condemn a proper occasional use of them in 
others. Here we differ. Is your opinion the sole test of sound truth 
and moral honesty? God promised to bless the vineyards of the Jews. 
Why ? Two thirds of Palestine were devoted to the cultivation of the 
vine and olive. Our Saviour made wine ; He instituted its use in the 
Eucharist, and in many Scriptures its use is expressly recommended and 
enjoined. Wine countries are proverbially temperate. I resided once 
for some time among a wine-drinking people, and never saw a drunkard. 
I do not believe that the common people can ever be persuaded to use 
water alone. By demanding it of them and placing every drink upon 
the same footing, you do, I conscientiously believe, retard if not ruin 
the cause. 

I have not been an idler in the Temperance cause. Like Paul, when 
unjustly accused, I may boast. No man in the country, excepting Mr. 
Stewart, has laboured more in the cause of Temperance. In 1828 I 
preached upon the principle of Total Abstinence, when scarce a man in 
Dutchess County spoke out in favour of Temperance but myself. The 
sermon was printed. The Temperance Societies at Rome printed my 



112 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

address in February last. The Circular of the Young Men's County- 
Temperance Society was -written by myself. I am a member of that So- 
ciety's Executive Committee. I am Chairman of a committee of eight- 
een who have gone a great way toward placing the pledge before every 
person in the county. I am Chairman of the Young Men's State Cen- 
tral Committee. In the communion of the church over which I preside, 
not a single person is engaged in the traffic in ardent spirits. Months 
have passed since I drank wine, except in one instance, . . . My 
experience has been that of my Master, to be called, unjustly, ' a wine- 
bibber and a gluttonous man, a friend of publicans and sinners." 

Now, singularly enough, the two disputants referred their 
difficulty to Mr. Gerrit Smith, who decided that our minister 
had laid himself open to suspicion by his course in Conven- 
tion, combined with the fact that he had not given up wine, 
but must always think that Dr. Speed's remarks had better 
have been made in the private ear of Mr. Bethune. 

The next letter from Dr. Speed takes advantage of the 
impetuosity of his correspondent, complains of the reopen- 
ing of the controversy, and declares that Mr. B. had mistaken 
the spirit of his epistle. Whereupon Bethune rejoins with 
spirit : — 

*' January 3d, 1844. 
You seem to complain that I had ripped open an account settled. I 
had considered that account settled. You, sir, would never have heard 
a word from me on the matter. But in your letter the account was laid 
open. I had supposed yourself satisfied. I had supposed the Conven- 
tion satisfied in my favor. You, then, in your letter took pains not to 
apologise for, but to justify your act, not to show sorrow for my out- 
raged feelings, but to bring the testimony of other anonymous persons 
that I deserved it all. You thus proved to me that so far from having 
expiated the offence by the apology you offered, many still remained 
convinced from your testimony that I was a common swiller of such 
stuff*, and that my objection to the wine question was not conscientious 
but personal. All this may have been done with good intentions, nay, I 
believed it was done with such, but one may have good intentions towards 



LETTER TO DR. SPEED. 113 

a criminal ; and as a criminal was I treated, nay as the basest of criminals, 
a hypocritical falsifier of pretences. For I repeat, to believe I opposed 
the question from any other than conscientious motives, is to make me 
such. Had I then no cause for indignation at knowing that my good 
name had been injured in the estimation of individuals whom I never 
may see again and of whose names I am studiously kept in ignorance ? 
But for those statements of your own of the injurious eflfects of your 
charge upon my character, I would never have dreamed of asking any 
further apology, for I had deemed yours before the Convention was 
sufficient and also that yourself would have been my vindicator after 
what you had said. 

Even at this late day I cannot conceive the reason of your statement 
in Convention. I cannot imagine what it was intended to effect. Cer- 
tainly to attack the character of a prominent friend of temperance (as 
you are pleased to term me), is not the way to sustain the cause. But 
you assert that your motives were good and I believe you. It is, how- 
ever, faith entirely. Sight hath nothing to do with it 

My views with regard to the wine question, though a water drinker my- 
self, remain unchanged. If you push that question I believe you will 
ruin the cause. ... So thought the majority of our Convention. So 
thought the Connecticut Convention. If I err, I err in good company, 
or, do we all love our wine too well to be honest ? 

I shall be extremely happy in any way to testify my esteem for you, 
and again assert that the doubt of my candor by so respectable an 
individual as Dr. Speed gave me more pain than anything else. 
With sentiments of unfeigned regard and respect, 
I am yours, 

George W. Bethune.'* 

But he now has to deal with Mr. Delavan. This gentle- 
man's course in the conduct of the Temperance Kecorder, 
was calculated to misrepresent the action of the Convention. 
Mr. Bethune addresses him, declaring the resolution to be 
^' unwise, proscriptive and unscriptural, slanderous to the 
character of our blessed Master, and damnatory of the very 
regulations of God." 
8 



114 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

Mr. Bethune disclaims any judgment of Mr. Delavan's 
motives, but says that his course was unfair and unwise. 

"You will gain the victory," the pastor says. " There is fanaticism 
enough to carry it. But you will ruin your cause. "We have done well 
here for two years past, or rather for the past year. But I tremble for 
the future. Look at your own city ! behind us all, and in consequence 
of ultraism. A verdict over the dead body of the Temperance cause 
will soon be taken and it will be felo de se. Its epitaph is written. 
'Died of the evil it opposed, — intemperance.' I do not know that I 
shall write against the question. I am unwilling to court more abuse, 
but I do trust that God will yet deliver us from ourselves." 

To leave no stone unturned, a letter is written on the same 
day, 2Tth Jan., by our eager debater to his friend, Mr. Hop- 
kins, urging him to suggest some means of stopping the 
wine question. " We are almost unanimous here in Utica,'' 
he says, '' but the country members, in their honest but 
ignorant heat will all be led astray. We have seen an end 
^of all perfection ; I had begun to make the temperance cause 
an idol.'' 

Such was the reward of his fidelity to a good cause. Be- 
cause he could not utter the Shibboleth of the party, because 
he could not take the most extreme views, because he could 
not do that which reason and conscience alike forbade, he 
was subject to denunciation. It cannot be doubted that the 
accusation which was withdrawn by those who preferred it, 
still existed in the public mind ; and a man, who, above most 
others, lived soberly, righteously and godly, acquired the re- 
putation of a free-liver. Yet, we who love his memory re- 
joice that this controversy took place. His vehemence, his 
asperity, nay, even his mistakes, were the results of strong 
conviction and deep earnestness. He uttered the words ^ 
that rose to his lips, not because they were expedient, but be- 



COLONIZATION SPEECH. 115 

cause they were right. His judgment was rarely wrong in 
any matter brought fully before it ; his eye was single, and his 
whole body was full of light. It is fortunate that Time was 
to try the issue. This unfallible judge has vindicated his 
wisdom and justified his precision. Experience has shown 
that the cause of Temperance would be better off to-day had 
his conservative counsel been followed. 

As there had been a division among the friends of Temper- 
ance, so about this period there was a separation of those 
who were devoted to the welfare of the negro, the parties 
forming the Anti-Slavery and Colonization Societies. Mr. 
Bethune, according to the turn of his mind, went with the 
Conservative section, and in May, 1834, he repaired to New 
York to speak on the Colonization Anniversary. The Anti- 
Slavery meeting had been held on the preceding day, and 
as it had been quite successful, some friend who met Bethune 
at the wharf, informed him that his speech could do no good, 
as his favorite society was dead. But his fame had preced- 
ed him, and the announcement of his coming drew together 
an audience unusual in size and splendor. It was an as- 
sembly of the beauty and fashion of New York. He took 
advantage of the occasion in the following witty style : — 

"After my arrival in town, where I expected to meet a friend whom 
I had known for several years, and whom I was anxious to meet again, 
I was informed, to my grief and consternation, that he was dead and 
buried; for that the funeral obsequies of the American Colonization 
Society were attended yesterday. But when I behold this numerous 
audience, it seems as if there had been a resurrection, — for it is a col- 
lection of the most beautiful corpses I ever saw. They remind me of 
two lines of the poet : — 

' On the cold cheek of death smiles and roses are blending, 
And beauty immortal awakes from the tomb.' 



116 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

Nor can I forget an anecdote that I heard in my boyhood, that may 
well apply to the premature interment by the reverend pastor of the 
Spring street Church yesterday. An old lady took it into her head that 
her husband was about to die, and proceeded to the undertaker's to 
procure the necessary apparatus for the burial, — accordingly, says tlie 
couplet : — 

* Forth went the good lady to buy him a coffin, 
But when she came back, she found him a-laughing.'" 

He spoke of the course taken by the Abolitionists to the 
Colonization Society. 

The speech is represented as one of great power ; but the 
reports are so imperfect as to render them unworthy of re- 
production. 

The month of August, 1834, saw the last of Mr. Bethune's 
labors in Utica, and the church which he had built up and 
made so strong was to be occupied by another. From the 
previous date no event of special interest is noted in his 
papers. We willingly take it for granted, that the latter 
part of his ministry was like the beginning ; zealous, able, 
and useful to an unusual degree. 

Again we resort to the valuable memorial of H. K. Clarke, 
Esq. 

"Mr. Bethune's attention, most diligently and skillfully bestowed 
upon all the details of pastoral labor, by which his people might be 
benefitted or the welfare of his congregation promoted, did not fail to 
^reduce the most gratifying results. In the organization of the Sunday 
school, he was made its Superintendent, and though the practical 
details required of this office were performed by his assistants, yet his 
superintendency was real and constant, and those who remember it 
will add, delightful. By making the lessons of the Sabbath school and 
of the Bible class, which he conducted upon an evening during the 
week, identical, he became the teacher of the teachers, and thus left the 
impression of his teaching upon the whole school each week. 



IITS SABBATH SCHOOL. 117 

"During the first year of his ministry in Utica, and while the health of 
Mrs. Bethune permitted, she was also actively engaged in teaching the 
' Infant ' department of the Sabbath school. The method of instruction 
employed by her was then a novelty; but it was the most at- 
tractive feature of the exhibition or examination of the school which 
took place annually on Christmas. These occasions afforded an oppor- 
tunity for the exercise of the fine talent which Mr. Bethune possessed 
for lyrical composition. For such occasions he was never unprepared. 
Many of his contributions to the interest of such and similar services 
are still known and cherished by thousands who have no knowledge of 
their authorship. Floating through the various hymn and tune-books 
employed by Christian people, some of them like the hymn so popular 
among sailors, 

' Tossed upon life's raging billow,' 
attributed in the collection to 'Anonymous,' these sacred lyrics have 
not only done delightful service in swelling the flow of pious emotion m 
Christian hearts, but they reflect also the sweet spirit of their author. 
They prove that he, — to express the thought in his own words, was 
* Like him God loved, the sweet-tongued psalmist, 
Who found in harp and holy lay, 
The charm that keeps the spirit calmest.' 
While thus the pastor and his wife were actively employed in the 
Sabbath school, neither were wanting in the, manifestation of a kindly 
zeal in all the plans of minor moments, by which the school might be 
rendered more useful, or the scholars be gratified. Anything that 
would appropriately accomplish these objects was neither too tnflmg 
nor undignified to enlist the quick sympathy of Mr. Bethune. On a 
Friday evening previous to the Fourth of July, which was to occur on 
the following Monday, the teachers of the Sabbath school were assem- 
bled to make arrangements for the participation of the school m a 
general celebration of this anniversary by the schools of the city. Mr. 
Bethune overheard an expression of regret that the school would be 
obliged to appear without a banner, while it was known that several 
other schools had handsomely-painted banners that had been prepared 
for former occasions. He interrupted these regrets with ' Why can't we 
have a banner?' 'Because there is not time to get one painted; this 
is Friday evening and the celebration will be on Monday.' ' There is 



118 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

time enough,' he replied * all we want is a simple field of white silk, — 
white, to indicate the purity of the gospel you are called to teach, in- 
scribed Ilosanna! the shout of the children as they greeted the Saviour 
in the Temple, surrounded by a fringe of orange, the Dutch color, and 
we shall have a banner, at once appropriate and descriptive.' And ap- 
pointing two of the young ladies to procure the thread and do the 
needle-work, and one of the young men to procure the staff and the 
lettering, that arrangement for the coming celebration was made. The 
banner was completed on Saturday afternoon, and, in its place on 
Monday, it fully vindicated the ready wit and pure taste of its designer. 
During the first year of Mr. Bethune's service in the church at Utica, 
that remarkable exhibition of the power of the Spirit, which will be 
recognized as the great revival of 1831, was felt in his as in other 
churches in that region. The absence of the * new measures ' in the 
services of the Dutch church did not hinder the work of the Spirit there. 
Nor did the employment of these measures in other churches interrupt 
the genial flow of Christian feeling, nor mar the harmony with which all 
denominations joined to praise God for the manifest tokens of favor, 
which these scenes displayed. During this revival, the pastor of the 
Second Presbyterian church. Dr. Lansing, was called to mourn the 
decease of his wife. The session of his church desiring to relieve their 
pastor from his public duties on the Sabbath following that event, invited 
Mr. Bethune to conduct the morning service. He promptly complied. 
It was a memorable and most interesting service. Tliis young ' preacher 
of smooth things,' this * antinomian,' this ' individual from a certain city, 
a circumlocution applied to him with injurious comments in a religious 
paper printed in the city, was now to conduct the worship of a congrega- 
tion where the prejudice against him was the strongest. The circum- 
stances, however, were propitious. The hearts of the people were 
subdued by the bereavement which they felt in the liveliest sympathy 
with their pastor. The presence of the Spirit as displayed in the 
conversion of sinners had drawn all who loved the Spirit and his work 
into close communion. It was to such a congregation, surrounded by 
such influences, that Mr. Bethune performed that memorable half-day's 
service, and those who remember with what pathos and power his soul 
went forth in the utterances of the simple truths of the Gospel, and 
what a wealth of tenderness he had in store for all who needed the 
ministries of consolation, will not wonder why that service was a memor- 



LOVE FOR THE CIIURCH. 119 

able one to all who participated in it or witnessed any of its effects. 
On the succeeding Sabbath, the members of the Second church crowded 
the lecture-room of the Dutch church at the morning prayer-meeting, 
to overflowing; and the kindly recognitions of brotherhood in Christ, 
which were there interchanged, removed forever the asperity of feeling 
which had before existed. Differing opinions were doubtless still held 
with the earnestness of conviction ; but the injunction to * love the 
brethren,' was now remembered and obeyed. 

The communion seasons in the Dutch church, in the months of 
January and April 1831, were signalized by large accessions to the 
church of the fruits of the revival ; and if souls converted are ' crowns 
of rejoicing and seals to the ministry,' of those'who were instrumental 
in producing the gracious results, then great will be the rejoicings of 
pastor and people in the great Day, for the wisdom and tenderness and 
faithfulness by which the new communicants at these seasons, were led 
first to the cross and then to the table of the Lord. 

' My heart clings,' he writes in September 1834, after his removal to 
Philadelx)hia, to one who had been brought into the church under his 
instrumentality during the revival of 1831. ' My heart clings to dear, 
dear Utica, the scene of so many trials and joys, the place of warm 
friendships and bitter opposition. When I forget her, my right hand will 
have forgotten its cunning, and my tongue will cleave to the roof of my 
mouth. Dear little church ! Peace be within her walls and plenteous- 
ness within her dwellings, for my brethren's and my companions' sakes, I 
will now say ' peace be within thee.' ' 

And again in July, 1842, he writes, 'what a pleasant thing it is 
to know that our (it is still ours^ little church at Utica is quite 
filled up. God's blessing be upon it. I must visit th€m this summer 
if permitted.' " 

It is difficult to follow up all the efforts of his stirring life. 
Letters show that he was diligent in extending his denomin- 
ation through western New York, and the churches in that 
district made continual appeals to him for help, and before 
leaving the city, he had devised large educational plans, by 
which he thought to strengthen the Dutch interest. 



120 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

Two or three Utica anecdotes and we will go with him to 
Philadelphia. In the course of his ministration at Utica, Dr. 
B. at one time caught a breath of dissatisfaction on the part 
of certain individuals in his congregation at something he 
had said or done. It was mere gossip, but his extreme sen- 
sibility was at once alarmed; and agitated he hastened to 
his friend Rathbone, one of the consistory, and besought him 
to say wherein he had sinned. The counsellor knew that it 
was all trifling gossip, not worth a second thought, and quiet- 
ed his minister's iears by telling him so. In due time, 
Bethune applied again for advice on a like occasion, and ex- 
acted a promise from his adviser, that should any, even un- 
conscious, steps from the paths of strict decorum be discov- 
ed by Mr. Rathbone, he would instantly and frankly tell his 
friend of them. Within a few weeks, the Dominie was 
again in great alarm at his friend's office. He must have 
done something wrong 1 He was ready to h umble himself and 
ask forgiveness first of his God, and next of his people, if he 
could only know what it was. " Well," said Rathbone with 
amazing solemnity, "I am obliged to tell you that you have 
at last been guilty of a very bad action, a dereliction of 
duty, sacrilegious and increditable, committed on the Sab- 
bath day, and on your way to the sacred desk ! " " Do my 
dear friend, if you love me," said the other, " tell me what 
it is I I know I am a thoughtless, wicked creature, but I will 
ask and deserve my people's forgiveness, if I may only know 
my fault." "Well, I suppose I must tell you," said Rath- 
bone, without moving a muscle. " When you were going 
up the steps of the church, last Sunday morning, I was 
within twenty feet of you, and saw the act myself, you dare 
not deny it, you took two steps at once ! " 

It is related of Dr. Bethune that he did not trouble his 
friend Rathbone with any more cases of conscience. 



THE LOOK OF JiEPIJOOF. 121 

When stopping at a hotel in Utica, a gentleman found 
himself, in a moment of excitement, betrayed into the use of 
an oath. Turning round, he discovered that Mr. Bethune 
was present, who met him with such a look of sorrow, 
mingled with tenderness, as overwhelmed him. It had more 
effect than the most powerful sermon. Not a word was 
spoken, it was only a look, and yet, the person relates that 
never in his life had he felt so reproved and penitent. 

To the facetious belongs the following note from Dr. 
Cummins, the celebrated Romish priest : 

Rev. Me. Bethuke. "Utica, Nov. 2, 1831. 

Rev. and Dear Sir, — As I was returning home, this evening, after 
our very agreeable party at I\Ir. Devereux's, and pleasantly indulging 
my fancy on the subject of the first meeting of his reverend guests, a 
very singular and amusing idea crossed my mind. As you love a joke 
I would have gone back immediately, and presented you this trifle with 
all its laughing levity still fresh about it ; but on reflecting that it be- 
longed to the class of riddles, I thought it better not to set your wits 
a-hunting for the answer, at a moment when you were, perhaps, enjoy- 
ing the luxury of the segar, to which you so politely invited me, or pre- 
paring for a comfortable nap after dinner. 

If you don't soon find out the answer to my riddle, you may consult 
our other two reverend friends, as you Avill perceive that the literary 
fame of each of us four is equally interested in the solution of this most 
important question : 

Query. — Why must Mr. Devereux's reverend guests of this day be 
recognized by every scholar, at the very first sound of their names, as 
the four most eminent and leading characters in the modern Republic of 
letters ? 

Je vous le donne a deviner en quatre, as the French say. En at- 
tendant, veuillez agreer, mon cher Monsieur, mes respectueux senti- 
ments. Cummins." 

The fourth gentleman of the party was the Rev. Mr, 

Adams of the Presbyterian church. 



122 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 



CHAPTER VI. 

SETTLING IN PHILADELPHIA WANDERINGS IN EUROPE. 

Towards the middle of March, 1834, Mr. Bethune receiv- 
ed a letter, which was meant to sound him as to whether he 
was inclined to be a candidate for the pulpit lately vacated 
in Philadelphia, by the death of the Rev. G. R. Livingston. 
This prospect of change was the more welcome, as the cold 
climate of Utica was telling upon the health of his wife, and 
the medical advice which was thus rendered necessary, was 
to be obtained in Philadelphia. Added to this, good minis- 
terial society, books, scientific lectures and ease of communi- 
cation with New York, all combined to tempt him to change. 
The proposal v/as taken into serious consideration, and Mrs. 
Joanna Bethune's sage opinions were, as usual, elicited. 
But when in the next month, an invitation came to repair to 
Philadelphia and preach on trial, the proposal was repudi- 
ated on the spot. Our minister professed himself at all times 
open to a direct call, but his self-respect recoiled at the idea 
of an exhibition of his capabilities. " Other calls were not 
likely to be wanting," and he thought it well, even in a 
worldly point of view, to stand upon his dignity. Accord- 
ingl}^ in the latter part of May, he received a formal call 
from the First Reformed Dutch Church of Philadelphia, Crown 
street, and the sum of two thousand dollars a year was to 
free him from worldly cares and avocations, while engaged 
in the spiritual duties of that post. Great was the sorrow 



INSTALLATION AT PHILADELPHIA. 123 

of the Utica flock, when, on the 29th June, their good pastor 
preached his farewell sermon. It was heard by a large con- 
gregation. " Shall I tell you how many tears have been 
shed, how many sighs heaved, and how many prayers offer- 
ed for you ? But no, I would rather say that the blessing of 
the poor and needy will follow you whithersoever you go," 
wrote a humble Christian. 

The installation took place in September, and the sermon 
was preached by Rev. Dr. Mathews. The two inaugural dis- 
courses were heard by very crowded houses, and afterwards 
published, and it is related that at Mr. Bethune's first ap- 
pearance in the pulpit, a most thrilling effect was produced 
by the simple recital of the Apostles' Creed. After standing 
some moments with his right hand raised, he began in the 
most solemn manner to repeat the words, his loud, clear voice 
ringing through the great building ; the vast audience were 
spell-bound, and a most impressive silence ensued until broken 
by the sound of the organ. The new, popular and well-known 
minister found himself immersed in work, within reach of 
every necessary of literary life, and spurred to vigorous ex- 
ertion by the rivalry of his peers. He writes, '' There is a 
strange contrast between this dull population and lively New 
York. Indeed I have some fears whether I can ever make 
that impression upon the city I could wish. My tempera- 
ment and mode of doing tilings is so different. However, 
thei'e is nothing so good as effort, except reliance upon God. 
The more I see of my new people, the more I feel that I will 
be useful among them. Much labor and pains and patience 
will be required." 

He writes to Mrs. Joanna Bethune, Nov. 19th : 

*' Every day for a week past I have determined to write, but have been 
interrupted until too late for the mail. I have been paying the penalty 



124 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

of a new-comer; I have spoken at some public meeting every week since 
I have been here, besides a thousand applications, &c., which I know 
not how to dispose of. I spoke last evening for the Methodist Ladies' 
Missionary Society, so that I am quite * promiskus,' as the folks say. 
My own congregation is doing very well. In a few days there will not 
be a vacant seat below stairs. The value of the pews on sale has risen 
at least fifty per cent. My Bible class, also, has crossed the Rubicon, 
and is successful, at least in appearance. 

I have now my excellent friend Dr. Ludlow * with us in town, whose 
sound sense will be a great personal aid to me, and whose official station 
will give influence to our congregation. He is to be my hearer. I think 
even that (if I do not carry the fear of man too far) will be of service 
to me ; I will not dare to talk carelessly or crudely before him. I 
thought I would enjoy clerical society when I came here, but I find very 
little cordiality on the part of the clergy generally, and I have very little 
time to enjoy the intercourse of the few I know. Drs. Cnyler and Lud- 
low are my especial friends. I have been and am still labouring in- 
tensely hard; I never strained mind and body so much before." 



When we learn now from a letter of 23d Dec., that, having 
formed the determination never to preach an old sermon if 
he could possibly get time to write a new one, he had just 
placed the No. 23 upon the last written since he came to 
Philadelphia, we gain a sufficient idea both of the fluency 
of his pen, and of his power to construe hoc age. 

He was equally diligent in pastoral works, and, by the 
month of October, had visited half the congregation, hav- 
ing made 160 calls. His career of platform speaking was 
now fairly begun. He addresses the City Tract Society, 
promises a Charity Sermon, engages for a Colonization meet- 
ing. His opinions in politics, as on most subjects, were 
positive and well considered. 

* Dr. Ludlow was Provost of the University of Pennsylvania. 



roLiTiCAL yiEv»'s. 125 

H. I. Kip to G. W. B. " rviiiNEDECK, Jan. H, 1835. 

I have been told that you too have veered round from your old po- 
sition ; but I did not design to enter into a political discussion, so I will 
merely say that if, upon mature deliberation, you have become convinced 
that the present administration is a dangerous one, you are justifiable in 
the course you have taken ; else we might as well live under a king, if 
we are not permitted to change, right or wrong ; but, as for myself, I 
tliink we are as safe and as prosperous as we should be by a change, for, 
to tell the truth, there is too little honesty in politics at the present day." 

G. W. B. TO IMrs. J. B. *' March 19. 

Yes, my dear mother, I am now thirty years of age. In all proba- 
bility the larger half of my life is past ; and while I feel grateful that so 
many opportunities of usefulness have been granted to such a young 
man, I have much cause for sorrow tliat I have improved them no better, 
and deserve so little the success with which God has sometimes been 
pleased to honor his own word by my lips. May the time past suffice 
me to have wrought so much for myself and the world, and the future 
find me more fervent in spirit, diligent in business, ' serving the Lord.' 
I think I was never more tried in my ministerial life than now, by the 
little apparent success attending my labours. There are, however, many 
moral causes in the past aflfecting the present and beyond my power to 
control. The people must be weaned from a dependence upon measures 
of their own contriving, ere we can expect God to remember them in 
mercy." 

In May, 1835 he appeared at the Anniversary of the New 
York Colonization Society, and is thus noticed by the N. Y. 
Commercial Advertiser. 

" Rev. Mr. Bethune addressed the meeting in his peculiarly happy 
vein, and delighted tlie audience for three-quarters of an hour with great 
efiect. We have listened to few specimens of racy humor and sarcasm 
more felicitous than portions of this speech ; particularly the form of the 
report which it will become Mr. Geo. Thompson to present to the vener- 
able single ladies of Glasgow, who have sent hira over to emancipate the 
slaves of the South, by abusing their owners at the North. 



126 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

** He spoke as follows: The question then returned — how shall 
we do good to these people? Admitting that the power to liberate 
or not to liberate them, was de facto in the hands of the white masters 
at the South, two things were needful : first, to obtain the consent of 
their masters ; and secondly, to show how the benefit may be conferred 
with safety to those who receive it, the poor slaves themselves. One 
thing was certain ; you could never convince any such man unless you 
approached him in a spirit of kindness and moderation, a spirit which 
admitted and sympathized with the difliculties of the slave-holder. The 
gospel, while it testified of sin, came with the offer of grace in its hand, 
with sympathy and compassion in every look and every tone. So wliile 
it was a Christian duty to rebuke the sin of slave-holding, and to search 
it out, yet this was to be done only in a spirit of love and pity, and not 
in a spirit of denunciation, and rash and merciless judgment. What 
right had we to denounce ? Were we ourselves so clear of guilt in this 
matter? And if we were, did not the Son of God, himself without 
spot, come down with Heaven's mercy, not to condemn the world, but 
that the world through him might be saved ? Let us imitate his exam- 
ple : let us act in his spirit. . . . As to the second point, viz., the 
safety of the slave, the mode of relief must be distinctly shown. Every 
great object of a national kind must be accomplished gradually. His- 
tory did not show a single instance where it had been effected of" a 
sudden. The Southern people, in this matter of emancipation, held the 
power in their own hands ; and it was nonsense for us on this side of the 
Potomac to talk authoritatively in the case. We could not emancipate 
the slaves of Southern planters, if we would : the duty was not ours, 
but theirs. Now it was obvious that when an address was directed to 
conscience, it was, and must always be, virtually an address to individ- 
uals. It must be so in the nature of things ; and the appeal in behalf 
of liberating the slave must be an individual appeal. The Northern 
people came to a Southern slave-holder, and said to him : ' It is a duty 
binding on you to abolish slavery as soon as you can. If you will 
emancipate your slave we will provide him a home upon the soil of 
Africa. We are aware that the laws of your State forbid you to set him 
free where he is ; but if you confide him to our care, we will place liim 
where these laws cannot reach him, and where he may walk abroad in 
the erect majesty of a freeman.' To such a proposition there were 
many slave-holders ready to listen ; many had acted upon it ; and could 



SPEECH OX COLOXIZATIOX. 127 

any man doubt that one such example would have more influence 
toward the abolition of slavery than all the invectives and vituperations 
that could be poured out upon slave-holding ? Beyond all question it 
would. It was upon the eflfect of such appeals that Mr. B. founded his 
hopes of ultimate success ; and he believed that the great object might 
thus be obtained without sending out all the colored population from the 
country. 

But it was said that to send them to Africa was impossible ; it could 
not be done. Yet was it not a fact that millions upon millions of slaves 
had been brought from Africa, by the mere cupidity of bad men ? Were 
there not in a single year forty thousand carried into the Brazils alone ? 
And should it be said that the Christian philanthropy of America, backed 
by all our abundant and increasing national wealth, could not effect what 
the bare avarice of the slave-trader had done and was every day doing? 
Surely, if the Society had the pecuniary means this might be effected, 
and they should have had more of those means but for the interference 
of those who insisted upon the visionary scheme of immediate and uni- 
versal emancipation. Yet no ; he was wrong. The Society had not re- 
ceived less, but more, in consequence of the abuse of its opponents ; a 
fact in which he recognized with joy, the fulfilment of God's ancient 
promise, that the wrath of man should praise him. 

He was sorry not to see some more of our English friends present, 
and while speaking of them he could not help thinking what sort of a 
reception the agent of the Edinburg ladies (Mr. Thompson) would meet 
on his return to his constituents, and what sort of a report he would 
probably make on the subject of his mission. He could not but picture 
to himself the fair lady President enquiring, 

' And pray, Mr. Thompson, what did you do in America? ' 

To this he thought he heard the agent responding, 

♦ Why, ladies, I made speeches there ; for which one part of my audi- 
ence loudly applauded me, and another part as loudly hissed me.' 

' And pray where did you make your speeches, Mr. Thompson ? Did 
you go to that part of the country where slavery prevailed, and tell tliera 
how wrong it was ? ' 

' Oh no ! if I had they would have hanged me ! But I went to the 
Norihcm States, ladies, and I told them what wicked people they were 
at the South.' 

* But, Mr. Thompson, had the people of the North any power to 
emancipate the slaves of tlie Southern holders?' 



128 ME3IOIR OF GEO. W. BETIIUXE, D. D. 

' Oh no, no more, ladies, than you have yourselves.' 

* Indeed ! and then, Mr. Thompson, why did you not stay at home, 
and make your speeches to us ? ' 

' But pray, Mr. Thompson, -while you were in the United States were 
there no slaves actually liberated and placed in circumstances of comfort 
and happiness ? ' 

' Oh, yes, ladies, there were one hundred and twenty emancipated and 
sent to Liberia soon after my arrival ; and preparations were making to 
send one hundred more from Savannah, so that, in a few months, there 
were two hundred and twenty delivered entirely and forever from 
slavery.' 

* And by whose agency was the emancipation of these slaves effected, 
Mr. Thompson ? ' 

' Why, ladies, hy the very people against whom I was all the while 
directing my vituperative speeches.'" 

Thi& speech was delivered at a time when feelings ran 
very high, and the excitement was much increased by the 
foreign agents. 

" By the way," he writes, June loth, " Mr. Garrison, the Abolitionist, 
after two or three columns of the foulest abuse, says my zeal for coloni- 
zation may arise from the fact, that I am a large slave-holder in right of 
my wife. They are a beautiful set when they are all at home. The Pa- 
troon (bless his honest Dutch heart!) has given a thousand dollars to my 
new church, which goes on very well." 

The Synod of his church met this year in Albany, where 
he assumed a commanding position, being elected Vice 
President of the body, and made Chairman of the Com- 
mittee on Education. He was hospitably entertained 
by General Van Rensselaer (the old Patroon), and ''had 
never seen a family so lovely as theirs. There is an 
unaffected piety and gentle quiet spread among them, truly 
remarkable, considering their circumstances." 



THE NEW CHURCH. 129 

Aug. 5 he writes to Mrs. J. B. 

'^ You will be pleased to hear that I am to have my friend Gosman 
with me in Philadelphia. lie has just given encouragement to the Spring 
Garden jjeople that l;e will accept." 

It was at the installation of Rev. Dr. Gosman that Mr. 
Bethiine preached his sermon already alluded to, "Reasons 
for preferring' a Union with the Reformed Dutch Church of 
North America ^' ; an eifort in which a structure of graceful 
eloquence is raised upon a base of accurate historj^ 

Now came a new excitement to awaken the interest of our 
minister. The old church in Crown street was very crowd- 
ed, the congregation too large and unwieldy for the care of a 
single minister ; and as early as February 1835, the suggestion 
was made by Rev. Peter Labagh, " whether it is not almost 
time for your church to swarm that a new hive may be col- 
lected." This idea must have been greatly encouraged by 
the promise from Gen. Van Rensselaer of $1000 towards the 
enterprise. This promise was given in June, and directly 
a meeting was called, and subscriptions opened for the ob- 
ject ; but no active steps were taken until Dec. 17, 1835, 
when, at a meeting held at the house of Mr. Bethune, it 
was solemnly and with prayer for God's help, resolved to 
commence building a house of God, on the lot at the 
corner of Tenth and Filbert streets. The corner-stone was 
laid by Gen. Yan Rensselaer, May 3, 1836 ; Rev. Dr. Ludlow 
made an address, while Mr. Bethune stated -the reasons 
which moved their action. It was in ''no spirit of rivalry, 
they came away in peace, and left their friends and co-wor- 
shippers in the communion of the kindest feeling. But we 
return to the personal. 

After some account of domestic trials, and personal 
9 



130 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

afflictions, he goes on : — 

G. W. B. TO Mrs. J. B. " Jan. 7, 1836. 

I am, at the same time, in the midst of a very difficult set of sermons, 
the doctrines of the person and life of Christ. 

I used to think I could feel the truth of Addison's lines, — 

' Not the least gift a cheerful heart, 
To taste thy gifts with joy.' 

I can hardly get up to the cheerfulness now, but I can thank God for 
patience. I am the more submissive to his hand, because I think I have 
seen that I deserve much more than I have received of chastening. I 
am a very proud man, and need humbling ; a reckless man, and need 
sobriety. I am learning, I trust. 

But I am wrong in distressing you, who have so much trouble of your 
own. I ought to be comforting you ; but I believe I shall be always a 
child, in running to my mother when I feel distressed. I have the sick 
with me, but you are alone ; yet * not alone,' I trust, for God is with 
you. 

I have no other news, except that my friends have bought the lot for 
the new church at $18,500, and are about contracting for the building 
(Gothic), at ^25,000. Total expense, $50,000. Their subscription is 
already above $21,000. 

I have heard nothing more from Market street. It would not have 
done for me ; I need a different sort of people to get along with than the 
mass of them. Besides, I would be almost as far from you as I am 
now." 

G. W. B. TO Mrs. J. B. '' February 15. 

You seem anxious, from some observation of M.'s, lest D. and I 
should quarrel about doctrine : give yourself no uneasiness on that score, 
I am determined we shall not. He is not, however, so scrupulous with 
me as with you ; and I have not the slightest doubt meant to try and 
convert me when he came here. Only upon one occasion had we any 
warmth. He had denied that the expression, * Ye are the temples of the 
Holy Ghost,' taught the doctrine of the Spirit's dwelling in Christ's peo- 
ple. He said it meant nothing more than that they had faith, etc., which 
are the influences of the Spirit. I told him I believed that the Spirit of 



WASHINGTON. 131 

God did d\rell in God's children. He laughed long and loud, and said it 
was nonsense. I then told him that he would oblige me either by speak- 
ing reverently of what he knew I held God's truth, or not at all, — that I 
could not bear to hear my own f.iith and the faith of my fathers ridiculed 
as nonsense. Since then we have got along very well together, as he finds 
me firm, and has given over the idea of converting me to his side." 

A trip to Washington in behalf of his favorite Coloniza- 
tion Society brought him in contact with some of our great 
men, and his impressions are interesting. 

*' I spent yesterday in the Senate Chamber. I heard Mr. Poindexter, 
Mr. Benton, and Mr. Calhoun speak with great power in thought, but I 
was surprised not to hear better English. Mr. Clay made short but en- 
ergetic speeches, and I admired him very much. I went to the Presi- 
dent's levee. Last evening I spent at Mr. Forsyth's, among a brilliant 
crowd. Poor Mrs. Forsyth seemed sick of the whole parade, and asked 
rae if I did not think it possible to keep religion alive, and yet be found 
where seeming propriety required her station to be. I met Col. Inly 
and some very distinguished foreigners. Mr. Webster talked delight- 
fully with me; so did Mr. Calhoun. I addressed a little compliment, 
wliich he swallowed like any mortal." 

Now the state of his affairs opened a brilliant prospect. 
Eeleased from the care of Grown street church, and the fact 
that his new church was still in embryo, without a place of 
worship, afforded him a season of relief, and an opportunity 
to realize a golden dream of youth in a visit to the old world. 
Imagination may conceive the pleasure with which a mind, 
stored with classic memories, and rich with poetic beauties 
as was his, would revel in such an anticipation. Let us hear 
his own account. 

After devoting a page to the account of a great missionary 
meeting, of which the whole burden and anxiety devolved 
upon hira, he writes ; 



132 MEMOIR OF GEO. AV. BETIIUXE, D. D. 

G. W. B. TO Mrs. J. B. ''April 2d. 

We are getting on in our liousehold the old way. Frances is, gen- 
erally, better than she was, but Mary improves very slowly, and is 
frequently very ill. Dr. Hodge is very anxious that she should take a 
voyage ; and, by the way, there seems a prospect of my having a better 
opportunity of going to Europe than would be likely to occur again 
if I could avail myself of it. 

My new church, the corner-stone of which will be laid on or about 
the first of May, we had hoped would have been finished in November. 
This is now, to say the least, doubtful; and twelve months may elapse 
before its completion. If, therefore, I could employ the interval in a 
voyage and tour abroad, it might be serviceable. A fond day-dream I 
have had for some time has been, going to the MediteiTanean in the sum- 
mer and establishing Mary, with some attendant friend, in some place 
in Italy (Pisa, for instance, where living is cheap and the climate good, 
and consequently many English residents), and myself looking through 
Italy and Greece, and especially Egypt and the Holy Land. All this 
could be done before spring, when we could go to England in time for 
the May meetings, and have some months of the twelve there and in my 
fatherland. Such a tour I would much rather make than to spend a 
longer time in Great Britain, which is pretty much like our own coun- 
try ; and as a preacher, a visit to Palestine would be of great service to 
me. A very pretty dream, you say, — but when we cannot have the re- 
ality dreams are pleasant sometimes. Yet so many cross the water who 
have not the inducements to go I have, that I sometimes feel a little im- 
patient. My new church once built, fetters will be around me, and 
the thing must be given up for life." 

His address on ChristiaD mission^ was printed in the Evan- 
gelical Magazine, July, 1836. Excepting this, no event of 
special interest for our memoir occurs, until in the same 
month we find the good Domiuie and Yeffrow on ship board, 
setting sail from the land, and breasting the waves of the 
Atlantic. The sea afforded that repose which his over- 
tasked faculties so much needed (there had been a fear of 
blindness), and we can imagine for ourselves the charm with 



SCOTLAND. 133 

which his genial converse and merry humor would enliven 
the tedium of the voyage ; quite a successful one for those 
days, but tedious enough according to our notions. It was 
thirty days before they saw land, reaching Liverpool August 
20, and Mr. Bethune was but little benefitted. Directly he 
hies to Scotland, and finds it " all that he had expected. '^ 

•' When we came to 'merry CarHsle/ new associations were present- 
ed constantly to my mind. You know hew fond I have been of bal- 
lads, particularly Scotch, and of Scott's novels, and everything relative 
to the border wars. Here every name was famihar; there was the 
castle of Carlisle, where Fergus Maclvor in ' Waverley' was confined, 
and from which he was carried to the scaffold ; here, also, the three out- 
laws were brought to be hanged, as an old ballad tells us, which, per- 
haps, you do not remember. There we crossed the very river on the 
bridge of which Maclvor saw the ghost which foretold his death. Then 
on the right we passed Wetherby Hall, from which Lochinvar stole his 
bride ; and then • Cannabie Sea,' over which they chased ; and the Esk, 
which he * swam when ford there was none ' ; after that we passed the 
Teviot, the Clyde, the Yarrow, ' braw, braw lads on Yarrow braes,' 
the Ettrick, the Galla Water, leaving Melrose and Dryburgh on the 
right hand, passing in full view of Abbotsford, Walter Scott's place. 
Edinburgh is most beautifully situated, and excelhng in beauty any 
idea I had ever formed of it." 

At Edinburgh " on Sunday morning, I went to hear my cousin Mr. 
Marshall, in what is termed the Tolbooth, or Jail Church; it is the 
same building in which the famous escape of Robertson, the prisoner, 
occurred, as it is described in the ' Heart of Mid Lothian,' but the wood- 
work is very much modernised ; under the same roof there are three 
churches, for it was originally an immense Gothic Cathredral. On 
Monday I went exploring universities in what is termed the old town, 
a great portion of which is built in ravines, over which are bridges 
also covered with houses, so that there is a city as it were over a city. 
First I sought out the house in which my grandmother used to live, 
which I found very readily ; then I went through the libraries which 



134 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE. D. D. 

are very large, in -wliicli I saw some fine old volumes and a few manu- 
scripts ; among the rest a collection of the genuine letters of my fa- 
vorite Mary Queen of Scots in her own hand-writing, they were prin- 
cipally to her mother, and breathed much of the affection of a kind 
heart. I then went to the towers, saw the Highland regiment there 
stationed, and the ancient regalia of Scotland. I saw Allen Ram- 
say's house and his grave ; and then the Grass Market where the mar- 
tyrs suffered, passed a window from which John Knox used to preach 
to the people, and then to Holy rood Palace where I saw the State 
rooms of poor Mary, and the place of her many sorrows. Every 
spot has an historical association." 

He visited the birth-place of his father, and had a warm 
reception from his Scottish cousins. He preached a Charity 
Sermon with good results. 

** The beauty of Stirling exceeds almost any scenery of the quiet 
kind that I have yet viewed ; the castle is a fine old pile, and of 
course the more attractive to me from its having been the residence of 
ray uncle for so long a time. The river Forth winds in a most extraor- 
dinary manner near it, so that it makes twenty miles of circuit in 
going seven. Its banks are full of interest from the number of gen- 
tlemen's seats and ruined buildings. I entered Edinburgh to-day 
from a new quarter, and was again struck with its superiority to any 
place I have ever seen. I was, however, much amused this afternoon 
in visiting a panorama which is exhibiting here of New York — no 
one I am sure would have known the poor city, so metamorphosed is 
it from the reality. The people, however, that were visiting it, 
seemed highly delighted and pronounced it a most splendid city. 
The view Is supposed to be taken from the house immediately oppo- 
site St. Paul's Church. Broadway seemed nearly three hundred feet 
wide, and Columbia College close to the river. I am perfectly de- 
lighted with my trip to the Highlands. The variety of scenery is 
beyond description, and entirely different from anything I have ever 
seen at home. I found Dalrymple House in fine preservation, only 
it is, I suppose, the residence of a dozen families; and there is a grog 



CliOLY AND MELVILLE. 135 

shop in the basement kept by a man of the name of Graham, who 
never heard of Dahymple House m his life. 

Keturning to England, " I stopped at Glastonbury, where I saw 
the oldest Ecclesiastical buildings, or rather ruins (though one church 
is yet standing entire j in England; here tradition asserts that Joseph 
of Arimathea landed with eleven companions some forty years after 
Christ, and preached the gospel. Here, too, King Arthur was buried 
with his queen. I slept in the very place which was formerly the 
Pilgrim's House." 

At Bristol a series of Missionary meetings demanded his attention 
and efforts. 

"London turns one's head upside down more than any place I 
have ever been in ; and not only one's head, but one's time, night is 
day and day is night ; if you chance to be downstairs before ten, it 
excites quite serious astonishment ; the morning closes not until six 
in the evening, and then dinner occupies you until ten, so that, with 
the best intentions in the world, I have been cheated out of my design 
of writing to you. 

I had the pleasure of hearing Dr. Croly (the author of Salathiel) 
in the morning, and Mr. Melville in the evening. Croly was not 
at all profound, and of course shew^ed no great things, though I was 
gratified in seeing him and speaking to him afterwards. He is a very 
different man from what I expected — being tall, stout, and ungainly, 
with a strong Jewish accent. Melville, I feel inclined to pronounce 
the best preacher I have heard in England. His sermon was fervid 
though cautious and earnest without cant. The text he chose was 
from 2nd Thessalonians iii., IG : " The Lord of peace grant you peace 
always by all means." The tenor of the discourse was to show that 
from the name of God in Christ, the God of peace, we might, and 
ought, at all times and in every variety of circumstances to enjoy 
serenity and quiet of soul. It was sweet as well as strong. 

I preached last night at Craven Chapel, to an enormous audience, 
and I believe with acceptance to the people ; Oh ! that it may be with 
God's blessing. 

There is quite a revival in ]\Ir. Leifchilds's church ; and you will 



136 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

rejoice with me when I tell you that my sermon on Sunday evening 
has been, with the blessing of Divine grace, the means of leading three 
or four that we know of to decide for the Lord. I spoke this even- 
ing for him also, and to do away some of the bitter prejudice which 
exists, I told them, some of my Oatland stories, which aifected many to 
tears. I have been requested to give a sermon for publication 
in the same series, if not in the same volume, with one of John 
Foster, and one of Mr. McCall of Manchester, and I have promised 
to write." 

Oatlands mentioned above was the plantation in Georgia, 
where he labored amongst the slaves. In the course of 
this tour, the righteous soul of our minister was much 
vexed with the injustice done to his countrj^ ; and he 
concluded " that they (English people) were too much 
beside themselves and too ignorant on that subject to be 
talked with.'^ 

AYhile he was thus enjojang and wandering, disputing 
and preaching, perhaps he was not ill pleased to learn that 
the work upon his new church was progressing slowly, and 
that he would be at liberty to spend the winter in Europe, 
if so disposed. We soon find him at Dover on his way to 
France and Italy ; he writes from Paris : 

" Brighton is the place where, as I suppose you know, the king has a 
palace or, as it is called, a Pavilion. Here, in what seems to me a very 
odd taste, the English come as to a watering-place at this time of year 
(Dec. 4). You may imagine how great the resort is, when I say that 
the place contains some forty thousand inhabitants, which was only a 
fishing village before. The palace is a very singular building in the 
Eastern style, with singular bell-shaped turrets. There had been a 
violent storm a few days before we reached it, and the place, being 
entirely exposed to the sea, bore numerous traces of its devastating 
influence ; yet in spite of the gale, the people, ladies and all, were 
walking upon the pier, with their garments blowing about in very odd 



A FRENCH DILIGENCE. lo? 

style, yet as it is the fsisliion they bore it with no small philosophy. 
Hastings too, is quite a striking place, the buildings are really beautiful. 
That is the place where William the Conqueror fought his famous battle 
on invading England. Dover is the place where the white cliflfs of 
chalk are, which have given to England the name of white-cliffed 
England. You remember Shakespeare's description of Dover in Lear; 
but certainly Shakespeare had never seen an American cliff, or he 
would never have made such a fuss about these. 

I have seen nothing very remarkable in France, until we reached this 
city except the great number of wind-mills, which are so frequent that 
they are enough to turn one's head. A French diligence is, however, 
a most extraordinary affair. It is, properly speaking, composed of 
three parts; the coupe which is exactly like an English chariot; the 
rotonde which is like a post-coach, and the interieur which is the same 
only opening behind ; besides these there is a place upon tlie top where 
all the baggage is stowed, the name of which I forget but which is 
capable of holding a number of persons, so that altogether there may 
be some twenty passengers with the driver and conducteur. This huge 
machine is upon four wheels, and drawn sometimes by four, sometimes 
by five and even six horses. If there are five, the three horses are put 
on the lead. The harness is made up of ropes and chains and wood 
and leather, in the most grotesque manner, and thus you are dragged 
over the paved roads at about four or five miles an hour. It is really 
quite astonishing that they do not upset the concern a dozen times a 
day, for the French drivers manage their horses apparently with the 
worst possible skill, yet they get along with very few accidents." 

The following letter to an old friend gives a valuable 
resume of our traveller's impressions up to this period. 

G. W. B. TO Miss Euphesiia Van Rensselaer. 

" Paeis, Decemher 26, 1836. 

I am sure your goodness will pardon my finding a solace for my 

feelings in expressing them to you, however unmindful I may seem to 

have been of the privilege you gave me of sending you an account of 

my wanderings. My excuses on that score have been already made. 



138 MEMOIR OF GEO. \V. BETHUNE, D. D. 

It is too late now to begin a detailed description of the many places 
of interest I have visited. My extreme hurry prevents it at the proper 
time, and I must wait for that pleasure until I return; but you will 
not consider me too bold in saying that in every scene of natural 
beauty, or historical association, I found additional delight from the 
hope of being permitted to describe it to you at some future day. To 
say I have been gratified by my visit to the Old World, would not be 
half the truth. I have been instructed and rebuked ; instructed by the 
perception of new claims upon my charity, and rebuked for a thousand 
prejudices I had insensibly allowed to grow up in my mind. Everywhere 
I have been met with kindness, unexpected as it was unmerited; and I 
hope never again to confine my idea of neighborhood to narrower 
limits than the family of man. O for a heart like His, who so loved the 
world as to give himself for it. How ungrateful I have been to waste 
so many thoughts and hours upon myself, when there are so many 
immortal beings whom he has commanded me to serve. I was much 
pleased with England. The English are truly a wonderful people. It 
is impossible to travel however rapidly through their country without 
being impressed by the mightiness of their strength. The majestic 
dignity of age is combined with the vigor of youth. Time, which 
wears away all else, has delighted to confirm and extend the founda- 
tions of their prosperity. It is little less than sublime to see their 
aristocratic families flourishing and happy, beneath the same gray roofs 
which have sheltered their fathers for a thousand years ; or to join the 
rustic worshippers in the ivy-covered church, whose aisles are worn by 
the footsteps of many generations who have there breathed the same 
prayers and sung the same hymns of holy praise. There is poverty, 
bitter, hopeless poverty in England, poverty such as is unknown in 
our happier land, and it is painful to compare the price of humble labor 
with the price of food; but excepting in the larger towns poverty is 
rarely seen. The same taste which leads the rich man to study the 
effect of every tree in his wide domain, teaches him to hide from the 
eye the displeasing contrast of squalid want. The cottage of the 
village pauper is covered with the woodbine and creeping multiflora ; 
while the starving wretch is forbidden to beg with the same sternness 
that he is forbidden to steal. I do not mean to say that there is no 
pity for the poor in England, on the contrary, their charity is un- 



ENGLISH INSTITUTIONS. 139 

equalled, but from the density of the population it is impossible to 
relieve all the distressed, and many an outcast perishes from want 
before the parish almoners can determine who are tlie proper guardians 
of his welfare. There is, however, not a little ostentation in the 
manner of their charity. It is not an unusual thing for the visitor to 
be shown the almshouses of an estate as part of its architectural 
adornments. I could not help smiling at a pompous inscription over 
a row of three or four which declares them to have been 'founded and 
endowed by the bounty ' of that Duchess of Marlborough, who, you 
remember, was notorious for her avarice. They shelter some half-a- 
dozen poor widows, and stand close to the princely portal through 
which you pass to find Blenheim House. It is very difficult to say how 
the many evils which undoubtedly exist in England may be remedied. 
After as careful a study as my opportunities allowed me to give the 
subject, I am rather inclined to be a tory in English politics. At least 
I would hold hard upon the wheels of reform to check if possible its too 
rapid descent. Even the abuses of their institutions like the excrescent 
humors that sometimes appear in the human frame, have been suffered 
to remain so long and to become so deeply imbedded that to sever them 
too rudely at once would be fatal to the life of the body politic. There 
are many arteries first to be bound up, and even then the knife should 
be in a skilful hand. The population in their little island is too numer- 
ous for such institutions as ours. There must be a strong hand some- 
where to keep down such immense brute force, at least in the present 
state of public morals. It is true, that much provision is made for the 
education of the people, and the national schools which one sees in 
every few miles of travel, are among England's proudest glories. But 
I am not one of those who believe in the omnipotence of education, 
unless it be accompanied by the influences of the Spirit of God. IMan 
can never know his true interest unless he sees it in the light of another 
world. When the people of England become generally and heartily 
religious, then, and not till then, will they be prepared for a popular 
government; and nothing but the same blessed leaven can keep our 
beloved country from the loss of her liberties, when our wide terri- 
tories shall become crowded like theirs. There is indeed, much 
religion now in England. I very much question whether pure and 
undefiled religion does not flourish much more there than in the United 



140 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

States. Certainly our worshipping assemblies might take many a lesson 
in decorum and solemnity from those which assemble in the churches 
of the establishment and the chapels of the dissenter. More holy, 
zealous and self-denied men I have never seen than many in both bodies 
of Christians, and, although too many of the clergy (which name is 
there confined to the ministry of the church of England) may have no 
true sense of the gospel they profess to teach, yet, the frequent reading 
of their admirable and instructive liturgy, with the many scriptural 
lessons appointed in the service, cannot fail to have a very salutary 
influence upon the popular mind. Certainly the evangelical clergy and 
the dissenting ministry are far more sound in the faith, and preach the 
gospel with greater simplicity, than the large majority of preachers 
with us. In only one or two instances have I heard doctrinal views 
given which would have been considered unsound in our own upright 
church. My -sympathies were of course more naturally with the 
dissenters in most respects, but I cannot avoid trembling at the dangers 
which menace the establishment. An established religion with us, 
would indeed be a great evil, but the refusal to establish a church by 
the state is very diiferent from putting one down. If the reform of 
the church, as it is called, could be placed in the hands of good men, 
the case would be different, but the party opposed to the establishment 
is composed of atheistical Jacobins, led on by such spirits as Hunt and 
Eoebuck, the vulgar Catholics headed by the strong-minded but in- 
famous O'Connell, many who care for none of these things, and a few 
candid, conscientious men. Must we not dread the result, when such 
unhallowed hands are put forth to touch the ark of the living God ? 
It is sad, however, to see the effect which the intermingling of religious 
with political questions has had upon many good men on both sides. 
Once the pious dissenter considered his political inferiority as a cross 
which it became him meekly to bear, and he worked the better for his 
poverty of spirit ; while the truly good churchman forgot his refusal to 
conform in admiration of his Catholic spirit; but now the dissenter 
buckles on his armor and contends with carnal weapons for his 
right, and the churchman like a strong man bars and bolts his house to 
keep it safe. 

The Episcopalian, heaven knows, has temptations to bigotry enough 
at all times, but in England just now, he is fusing, and the dissenter 



PUBLIC OPINION IN ENGLAND. 141 

not much better. Alas ! that brother should thus contend \7ith brother. 
If I were a dissenting minister in England, I would simply preach the 
gospel, and pray over it, leaving all the rest in the hands of God; but 
perhaps I would do just as they do, for we never know how we will act 
until we are tried. A good illustration of my last remark, by the way, 
is found in the present state of public opinion in England with refer- 
ence to the United States. The religious people especially are actually 
mad upon the subject of American slavery, so much so that an Ameri- 
can Christian can scarcely appear in a public meeting without being 
insulted. They will listen to no explanations, allow no diflSculties, 
and, almost universally ignorant of the nature of our government, 
compound in one common condemnation, the North and the South, the 
slave-holder, and the non slave-holder. It was rather hard for me to 
keep my temper at times, though I carefully avoided placing myself in 
positions which exposed me to attacks. The testimony of Thompson 
is taken for truth against all that the well-informed and the candid 
among themselves can say, much more against our asseverations. On 
one occasion I did so far forget myself as to give one gentleman a 
rather sharp retort. I had been baited by a number of them at a dinner- 
table one day, when this person, more rude than the rest, bade me ' mark 
what England had done, how she had freed all her slaves ; and let Am- 
erica go and do likewise, or be content to bear the scorn of the world. ' 
I replied, * Sir, when I read the news of the bill for the Emancipation 
of the AVest Indies, being passed, I said to myself, England is a gloii- 
ous nation, she well deserves her rank among the nations of the earth. 
She has done one of the most glorious acts the world has ever witnessed ; 
but sir,' I added, ' if the same spirit existed then which seems to excite 
you, I should doubt the genuineness of the charity after all.' 'How so 
sir?' rejoined my hero. 'Because sir, St. Pciul tells us Charity 
vaunteth not herself, is not puffed up, and, you must allow me to add, 
doth not behave herself unseemly. ' I was then let alone. I must how- 
ever do justice in saying that the church people are far more considerate 
and less prejudiced in this respect than the ministry, and that there are 
not a few among the latter class who are willing to allow the difficulties 
of our situation. Indeed, the liberal party in England is sadly raisnom- 
ered. Its chief strength is derived from the wealtliy manufacturers who 
are jealous of the landed aristocracy, and a few of the very high and 



142 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

wealthy nobility, who are jealous of the crown, and willing to provide 
habitations for themselves in the event of an overthrow. The truly 
liberal men are very, very rare. Do not think I have been biased by 
my associations in England. I have been far more among the Whigs than 
Tories. The morals of England generally, will not bear comparison 
with those of our own country. The multitude of drunkards is far great- 
er, and the unblushing audacity -with which the innumerable tippling 
shops, or rather palaces, invite their customers, has no parallel with us. 
I have had the curiosity to count the murders which are described in 
their papers, and am persuaded that they exceed in frequency those of 
the whole United States together. I was sorry also to learn that profli- 
gacy prevailed, not only in the manufacturing towns, and larger cities, 
but also among the agricultural classes, who are generally so pure. 
This is to be attributed to the extreme closeness of the population, which 
induces poverty, and consequent recklessness of character. 

But this is an unpleasant topic to dwell on, let me turn to one of a 
more gratifying character. We are told that John Bull is a rough, 
repulsive nature, cold and distant to strangers. I saw nothing of this. 
On the contrary, I mingled with all classes from the peer to the peasant, 
and everywhere met with the utmost politeness, and no rudeness or 
even carelessness of civility. There is, indeed, a certain reserve 
maintained in public places which I wish were oftener found at home, 
but it soon wears off when there is no necessity for it. The ready and 
willing attention of the servants is most agreeable to one accustomed 
to the republican indifference, which sits upon the brow of those we 
pay to do our bidding; while an English gentleman and lady are, just 
what gentlemen and ladies are all over the world. Everywhere you 
meet with intelligent people, who seem to think their kindness a matter 
of course without making such a fuss about it as we often see at home. 
The scenery in England is very sweet and quiet, but not various. 
With the exception of some fine mountain views in Wales, and among 
the lakes in Cumberland, I was rather tired of the monotony until I 
reached wild, rugged, yet ever fascinating, Scotland. The parks of 
many gentlemen are exceedingly fine. The oaks and cedars, centuries 
old, lift their arching branches or cast their profound shade over a turf 
shorn and levelled to a velvet softness, while the dappled deer are seen 
in the intervals gazing upon their beautiful shadows in the placid waters. 



ENGLISH AND SCOTCH SCENERY. 143 

But there was too much of the hand of man visible for my taste. It 
is true, nature has been imitated, but man's nature is not God's nature, 
and it is not impossible to forget tliat every shadow had been calculated 
and that the stream had been dammed up to form the lake, while the 
melancholy eye of the fawn looked upon you with a familiar confidence 
which told he was not a free denizen of the forest. Were nothing else 
wanting there is no sunshine in England to reveal the full beauty of 
the earth. Their clearest sky is a sort of cafe au lait color, and one 
can never go in search of the picturesque without an umbrella and 
over-shoes ; and as for a sunrise or a sunset they are matters of faith 
not sight. I would not give one glance of our deep blue heavens when 
the fleecy clouds are chasing over them, one glorious summer evening's 
western gorgeousness, or the streamy radiance of our Indian summer's 
morn, for the Duke of Northumberland's park, with all its ha-has and 
educated groves. I say educated, for every branch has been taught like 
a * young idea how to shoot.' 
But Scotland, 

*■ Land of the mountain and the flood, 
Land of green heath and shaggy wood.' 

My pen will certainly run away with me if I do not stop at once, and 
this awful elongation of an epistle be like poor Paddy's rope, the other 
end of which was cut off. I will not say Scotland is more beautiful 
than America, but certainly we have nothing like her scenery. But 
dear Scotland, thou shalt have another day to do thee honor. Au revoir. 
But I must stop again to say, I wish I could send your sister and your- 
self some sprigs of her heather to twine in your hair. It is worthy of 
the honor. As for the beauty of England's daughters, my fair country- 
Avomen have no cause for jealousy. 

I saw more loveliness at Gen. Cass's soiree last night, than I have seen 
since I left home, and there were none but Americans in the room. 
The English women are too — too — (I want a word) too strong, too 
healthy, if there be such a thing. Their cheeks are so red that they 
are almost blue. And such feet, they certainly gave the name to a foot 
measure. My conscience gives me, however, a twinge here, and bids 
me remember some delightful friends we had the pleasure of seeing, 
but there are exceptions, you know, to every general rule. I am told 
that among the nobility there are ladies of that high-bred beauty, which 



144 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

makes one almost hold his breath, it is so pure, so unearthly in its deli- 
cacy ; and I suppose it is so, but I could match all the noble beauty I 
saw, from among the cotton-spinners of Lowell, and the onion-growers 
of "Weathersfield, to say nothing of the Katrinas and Ariantzes, 
along our noble Hudson. I have heard, too, occasional laughter at the 
extremfe delicacy (squeamishness they call it) and shrinking sensitive- 
ness of observation, which characterize our American women. They 
say it argues mauvaise Jionte, but God grant that they may ever keep it. 
It is their liighest merit, their most attractive charm. It is more prec- 
ious than the richest veil that ever Mechlin weaver wove. You remem- 
ber the tempter in Milton's Comus (how exquisitely delightful that poem 
is) says : 

' Beauty was made for sports, as these, 

For feasts and courts and high festivities.' 
But when woman's feminineness is gone, she is not what God made 
her, and not what God would have her to be. Her throne is in the 
heart, her world her home. A proof of this is seen in the fact that, as 
no where else are women so retiring as with us, so, no where else have 
they so much real deference shown them. 

It excited wonder in England, when I once gave up my seat in a 
stage-coach to a lady, a thing an American ploughboy would have done. 
Everywhere in England and in France, you see females at Avork in the 
fields doing the work of men. Here they make part of the pageant of 
an hour, but at home we honor them as our mothers, our wives, our 
sisters and our friends. In England they hold a higher rank than 
among these trifling Frenchmen ; but in America they give to life its 
best and purest charms. I beg pardon for this unmerciful visitation. 
Your criticism I do not fear, for harsh you cannot be, and if I need for- 
giveness, I submit readily my case to so gentle a judge. You have, no 
doubt, met travelled Americans who alFect a disrelish for their own 
country. Never did I feel so grateful to God for casting my lot in that 
dear land, as now. I must quote a verse from one of my own songs to 
express my heart. 

' My country, oh, my country ! 
My heart still sighs for thee ; 
And many are the longing thoughts 

I send across the sea. 
My weary feet have wandered far. 
And far they yet may roam ; 



PARIS. 145 

But oh ! whatever land I tread, 
My heart is with my home.' 

Please present my most respectful compliments to all your estimable 
circle, and allow me to be 

Very truly your friend, 

Geo. W. Betiiune." 
G. W. B. TO Mrs. B. " Paris, Dec. 13, 1836. 

To describe Paris is impossible. It is a magnificent city, full of 
beautiful buildings and scenes of gaiety ; yet there are fiir fewer exter- 
nal evidences of depravity than in London, or any English city I have 
seen. Luxurious and abandoned as a vast majority of the Parisians 
are, they have the good sense to hide their dissipation, or, at least, to 
veil it with graceful drapery. The pleasantest circle I have found was 
at Mr. Baird's on Saturday evening last, when I met some thirty or 
forty Americans, and a few English, in an old-fasliioned religious meeting. 
It was very sweet and pleasant to sing the Lord's song in a strange land. 

The gallery of the Louvre contains paintings enough to occupy me 
for a year. They are, besides, altogether of a higher character than any 
of those I have seen except a very few in England. I would soon 
become very fond of such matters. There is much fine music to be 
heard, and it is quite delightful to hear as one passes along the streets 
at night, the sudden burst of harmony from a band playing some famil- 
iar tune. 

They tell a good story here, by the way, of Dr. He meant to ask 

his landlady for a chest of drawers to j)ut in his room, and he asked for a 
poitrine de calegon. It is said too, that he insisted upon maldng a 
speech before the French Bible Society, in French. The Parisians 
listened to him very gravely, but, &c." 

G. W. B. TO Mrs. J. B. " Dec. 28. 

I have been endeavoring to improve my time as well as I could, and 
certainly tliink that upon many subjects I have acquired much infor- 
mation. My French teacher compliments me upon the readiness with 
which I improve in my knowledge of the language, and I can under- 
stand sufficiently well, to profit by tlie lectures in the different halls. I 
certainly have learned more in Paris than in London, and the society of 
well-informed persons is more easily reached. I was almost ashamed 
of the manner in which my time slipt from me in London ; it seemed as if 
10 



146 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

I were continually employed in going from one street to another, the 
people are so wide apart. 

Here, one can meet all they know in a very short time. There is 
mucli religious society here, at least much to what you would expect, 
and I enjoy myself as well as I can away from all I love. Mary writes 
me she is better, and begs me not to return to her until I have gone 
further, and, but for this, I believe I would have been on my way back 
to her before. I am haunted too 'with the dread lest you will blame rae 
for staying in Europe, and spending so much money, though it is what I 
have not known how to avoid. I shall be miserable until I hear from you. 
I do hope the colonel will act a liberal part. He ought. But I must not 
write on this subject. I can not bear it. Dearest mother, forgive your 
son if lie has done wrong. 

We have been near seeing another revolution in Paris. Day before 
yesterdaj^ Louis Pliilippe was going in his carriage to open the Chamber, 
when he was fired at in his carriage by an assassin. The ball passed 
close to his head and between the Duke of Nemours and liis other son. 
I went to see the parade, and heard the shot, though I did not see the 
affair. I have been told since that it was well for us that the King was 
not killed, as the National Guards would have been so exasperated as to 
have charged at once upon the popukice. Poor Louis Philippe I His 
crown is one of thorns. Yet God seems to watch over him in a remark- 
able manner. I believe he most conscientiously intends the good of his 
subjects, and certainly in private life is scrupulously moral. They say 
that the attachment of the Royal family to each other, is very great, 
and would be unusual any where, and in any rank in life, but especially 
in France and a reigning liouse. The poor Queen looked very, very 
pale and anxious, as she passed where vre stood a few moments before 
the shot was fired. How near her fears were to being realized ! 

I can not say I like the French people. They are too flippant, too 
external, if I may use the expression, while the English are too heavy 
and reserved. I have found none like the warm-hearted, ready-handed 
Scotch. They are more like the Americans in character, and we, I think, 
contain many of the excellences of the French and English, with faults 
peculiarly our own. 

I had hoped for a run into Italy, but the weather is so bad, the roads 
so bad, the cholera so bad, and the quarantines worse than all, that I 
believe I must give it up, but it is hard to do so. 



SLEIGHING IN PARIS. 147 

Mr. Betbune was now made one of a deputation of Americans, who 
were to congratulate King Louis Philippe on his fortunate escape from 
the attempts upon his life. So he went to Court. " I had the honor," 
writes the traveller, " of a particular bow from his Majesty, which I 
attempted to return in my best style." On the same occasion, the 
English people had a deputation, and it was announced that while those 
of our country held the paper, containing resolutions of sympathy, the 
other party should express in words the sentiments of the house. Mr. 
Betlmne related the marked difference in the conduct of the two dele- 
gations. The English appeared abashed in the presence of royalty, and 
spoke to each other in suppressed whispers, while the Americans stood 
up erect and self-possessed, talking together as if quite at their ease. 
" I have been to Court and exercised the cat's privilege of looking at a 
king; he behaved very well, and so did we." 

" Paris now looks like home, the streets are covered with snow, and 
the people are enjoying themselves in the holidays. I have seen some 
sleighs in the streets, but they are the oddest looking things you can 
imagine. One of them is a reindeer stuffed upon runners, with a hole 
through the back, near the tail, in which a lady thrusts herself, and the 
gentleman, a Russian, sits behind and drives, and there is a gilded shell 
with a gilt cock perched upon the front. The horses have plumes of 
ostrich feathers upon their heads, and are covered with little bells. 
Did I tell you I was at General Cass's soiree last Monday evening ? 
It was quite an American party, and I have not seen so much beauty 
since I left home." 

The cholera having abated, and quarantine barriers being 

removed, our minister proceeded on his southern journey. 

We hear from him next at 

** Genoa, Jan. 18, 1837. 

What Hannibal and Buonaparte did I have done, 'crossed the 

Alps.' Whatever difficulties those gentlemen found in their way, I 

found none. It was, however, extremely cold. Indeed I have not been 

really comfortable since I have been in Italy. The scenery of the part 

of the Alps (those of Savoy) through which we came, is very wild, and 

sometimes extremely beautiful, but not so very different from mountain 

scenery at home, as I had imagined. Undoubtedly the season deprived 

it of many of its charms, but yet it must have given others ; the fan- 



148 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

tastic forms into which the droppings of the snow from the cliffs were 
frozen, and the congealed waterfalls glittering like diamonds in the sun, 
were exquisitely beautiful. No art could carA^e, and no fancy devise 
tracery so inimitably beautiful. "Winter scenery in a rugged country 
has always had great charms for me. I crossed by Mount Cenis, and it 
is wonderful how art has triumphed over nature in constructing a road 
over a heap (for no word seems to describe it so well) of mountains, 
nearly six thousand feet high, and so good that in summer the most timid 
woman might cross it without fear. I had for my companion a very 
pleasant man, a descendant of the Albigenses of wliom you have read. 
He was quite intelligent, speaking every language of Europe, and de- 
lighted to give all the information, and shew me all the kindness in his 
power. To liim I was indebted, not only for much pleasure, but instruc- 
tion in the liistory of those mountains where St. Paul once preached, 
and the religion of Christ was kept pure and undefiled during all the 
reign of superstition in the dark ages. Descending on this side of the 
mountain, we were soon aware we had entered Italy. 

The chestnut and elm began to abound, the sides of the precipitous 
liills were covered to the top with vineyards, and the graceful palace 
took the place of the Savoyard's Cottage. Sunday morning, very early, 
we reached Turin, the capital of Piedmont, the most beautiful city ex- 
cepting Edinburgh, I have seen. Nothing can be finer than its two 
principal squares. The streets, too, are as straight and rectangular as 
those of Philadelphia, and, what is still more remarkable, as clean. I 
did wish for spring, however, to set off the beauty of the scenery through 
which we passed. Imagine if you can, a wide, high road, lined on each 
side by fine old chestnuts, winding along the foot of hills covered to the 
top Avitli palaces, in the midst of vineyards, the vines growing on elm 
trees planted for the purpose, while below the road is the river Po, 
wide, i)lacid, and majestic, wandering through the richest valley, 
bounded in the distance by the snow-peaked Alps, and you have the 
road from Turin. Oh ! it is beautiful as a poet's dream ; then the cos- 
tume of the peasant women, a white veil thrown back from the head 
and flowing to the feet, is so graceful ; while the very oxen, white and 
dove-colored, are beautiful features in the landscape. Now I. look out 
from my chamber window on the Mediterranean. Genoa is situated on 
the shore of a harbor exactly like a horse-shoe, and is very rich and 
beautiful, but being built on the side of a hill, the houses are very liigh? 



PISA AXD FLORENCE. 149 

There are only one hundred and forty steps to my room, and in the pal- 
ace of the Palacini, whore I was to-day, the dining-room is up two pair 
of stairs. Here the costume of the women is very fanciful ; they wear 
long veils of chintz, the ground of which is white and flowered. They 
look very pretty in them. 

Pisa is remarkable for the beauty of some of its edifices. The prin- 
cipal is the leaning tower or campanile. It is about two hundred feet 
high, and circular, consisting of a number (eight) of stories with more than 
two hundred columns, but the greatest curiosity about it is, that in conse- 
quence, as is supposed, of an earthquake, it has been thrown from the 
perpendicular, and now leans over more than thirteen feet, so that you 
would suppose it would fall every moment, yet it has stood in tliis way 
for centuries. Near the town is a fine Cathedral, adorned Avith magnifi- 
cent brass gates, and columns, and pictures. Behind the cathedral again 
is the Baptistry, which is a beautiful octagon temple, entirely of white 
marble. They have there, too, what is termed the ' Campo Santo,' or 
holy field, which is a burial ground, the centre of which is filled in with 
earth brought from Jerusalem, and the sides enclosed by fine Gothic 
ranges of windows. It contains many beautiful monuments, much an- 
tique sculpture, and old inscriptions. We left Pisa, however, the next 
day, and came through the beautiful vale of the Arno to Florence. We 
were very much struck with the beauty of the peasantry ; the roads 
were lined with villages, and crowds of the peasants in their picturesque 
dresses were seen along. "We did not see a young woman with a bad 
face ; all were handsome ; the ladies say the men are so, too, but I did 
not remark them. Eeport says, the peasantry are as virtuous and in- 
dustrious as they are beautiful. Oh ! it was a sweet ride, the vineyards 
on each side, the winding Arno, rolling its deep waves, tinged by the 
hues of an Italian sunset, or silvered over by a full, clear moon, which 
rose upon us long before we entered Florence. Here there is much to 
interest the stranger, more than any part of Italy, except Rome and 
Venice. It is now the season of the Carnival, and the Florentines are 
very gay. The public promenade along the bank of the beautiful Arno 
is filled every afternoon with crowds in their holiday dresses, many with 
the most ludicrous and grotesque masks and costumes, amusing them- 
selves and the rest. The gentry go and drive on the Corso, which re- 
sembles the Pasea at Havana, where they ride backwards and for- 
wards, throwing sugar-plums at each other. Here is the celebrated 



150 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETIIUXE, D. D. 

riorontine gallery which contains the Venus de Medici, and many 
rare sculptures and paintings. I spent four liours in the gallery to-day, 
and shall spend as many to-morrow." 

G. W. B. TO Mrs. B. " Rome, Feb. 2, 1837. 

^Modern Eome is a sad commentary on the evanescent nature of 
human glory. It contains, it is true, many splendid buildings, and one 
unmatched in the world, St. Peter's ; hut there is the appearance of 
wretched, vicious poverty in the common people, and the streets are 
narrow and filthy. This is properly the week of the Carnival, when 
Eome should, according to custom, be very gay. You know that Car- 
nival means, literally, * Farewell to meats ! ' and precedes Lent ; it is, 
in truth, feasting as much as they can before they are obliged to fast. 
But I understand the Pope is fearful of a revolt, and has forbidden 
masks, which these childish Italians consider so necessary to their 
amusement, that they think they can have no fun without them. They 
have, however, some of their amusements, among which are ridiculous 
races. The principal street in the city is termed the Corso, or Race 
Course, and the middle of it is covered with tan. At the appointed time 
the horses are brought out behind a rope, which is stretched across the 
street, and are without riders, but with a sort of saddle with flaps, in 
which are iron spikes. At the sound of a cannon the rope before them 
is dropt, and away go the poor beasts, spurred on the more, the faster 
they make haste, until at the other end they run against a large clotli 
hung across the streets, and are stopped. Nothing can be more ridicu- 
lous, yet, to see this, the Romans go in crowds ; the Corso itself is full, 
and it is with the utmost difficulty the troops can preserve a lane wide 
enough for the horses. The glory of modern Rome, however, is her 
St. Peter's. This immense church I cannot describe to you : to say that 
it is more than GOO feet long, 200 feet broad, and 150 feet high, or 
rather, 450 feet to the top of the cross, would be to convey but a poor 
notion of its grandeur. Every part of this immense structure is fin- 
ished in the most costly manner ; mosaic pictures of enormous size, 
colossal statues and graceful tombs and altars, are on every side, in the 
greatest profusion. Not less than fifty millions of dollars had been 
spent upon this church in a.d. 1700 ; to say nothing of what has been 
added since. Yet I cannot say after all, that I admire St. Peter's ; it is 



HOME. 151 

impossible uct to be astonished at its vast size, but it is not to my mind 
truly grand. The gilt ceiling, the tinsel, the profusion of ornament 
are not to mj* taste. I had much more pleasure in Westminster Abbey, 
and some other Gothic buildings in England, and the Madeleine of 
Paris, which is pure Grecian, than in St. Peter's. It was, too, a strong 
rebuke of tlie pride wliieh created such a temple, to see, as one continu- 
ally does, a poor wretclicd man or woman huddling in the corner near 
the altar, which was most attractive to them for reasons they only could 
know. Surely the religion v/hich was given for the poor in spirit, and 
teaches humility of heart, needs no such gorgeous temple as St. Peter's. 
The rooms of the celebrated Vatican contain a profusion of fine sculp- 
ture, hut a small portion of which I have yet seen. The Apollo Belvi- 
dcre, next to the Venus de Medici, is probably the most beautiful statue 
in the world, such dignity ! such grace ! such manly beauty ! " 

G. W. B. TO Mrs. J. B. " Rome, Feb. 8, 1837. 

There is a gay scene from my windows. They look out upon the 
terraces and esplanade of the handsomest gardens of Rome, which are 
now filled with gaily-dressed and merry people. It is the last day of the 
carnival, Mardi Gras, and the Romans, expecting to be half starved for 
the next forty days, are determined to feast to-day. This Italy is indeed 
a beautiful land, like one vast pleasure-ground, with a continual summer. 
Every one may here find his taste gratified. Here are amusements for 
the butterflies, who think of notliing else ; because the Italian lives for 
amusement. Here are classical associations for the scholar, every hill, 
and lake, and river, speaking to him of times gone by, and here the lover 
of the arts, painting, sculpture and music, finds them in a profusion not 
elsewhere known. Yet it is a melancholy land. I cannot enjoy myself 
over the grave of buried millions i or when I see the indolent Italians 
lounging over the ground the masters of the world once trod, and yield- 
ing to the rule of effeminate and slipshod priests. The superstition of the 
people is awful. The other day I saw a dozen of them climbing upon their 
knees the Seala Santa, or stairs, said to have been those of Pilate's 
house wliich the Saviour went up; this was to gain a thousand days' 
indulgence, that is, to buy off a thousand years of purgatory. At another 
place crowds of vrell- dressed people and beggars of the m.ost revolting 
description were kissing, one after another, a cross wliich gained them a 
hundred days. The Pope is continually issuing orders about ceremonies 



152 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

and processions, and the whole aim seems to be, to make a puppet- 
show of religion. 

One could spend a month, yes, a year, in Rome, if his heart were 
not elsewhere, as mine is. I was yesterday at the Vatican Museum, 
where the galleries, taken altogether, are said to be nearly two miles 
long, and almost entirely filled with antique sculpture. The Apollo 
Belvidere — the celebrated group of Laocoon and his sons — the 
Antinous and the Jupiter are all there. Then tlie Capitol, likewise, 
contains an immense number of statues and bas-reliefs ; while more 
than a half-a-dozen palaces in Rome have picture galleries, filled with 
gems from the best masters. In the Doria palace, the other day, we 
went through seven immense rooms filled with valuable paintings, 
before we reached the gallery, which comprises three sides of a very 
large square. The beauty of some of these works is indescribable, and 
the effect of some of them remains on the mind long, long after you 
have ceased to look at them. I remember now, as distinctly as if I had 
the picture before me, Sassoferrato's picture of the Virgin in grief, and 
Raphael's Madonna, which I saw at Florence. I think I never can 
forget those pictures, or one head of Beatrice Cenci, by Guido. I saw a 
grand exhibition of the Pope and Cardinals at the Sistine Chapel the 
other day, which I cannot describe to you by letter, but will amuse you 
with when we meet. It was last Wednesday ; and the occasion of their 
meeting was for the Cardinals to have ashes sprinkled upon them 
which the Pope had blessed. The Pope is a venerable-looking old man, 
and it was sad to see him engaged in such mummery. Yet we ought 
to judge lightly, for none of us know how strong the prejudices of 
education may be. The environs of Rome are covered with ruins which 
speak of buried centuries." 



SUCCESS IN PHILADELPHIA. 153 



CHAPTER VII. 

SUCCESS IN PHILADELPHIA. 

The Philadelphia church was approaching completion; 
kind friends had been busy in preparing a pleasant place of 
residence ; time and money were both flying ; everything 
called for a speedy return home. During his absence, Mrs. 
Bethune had been transported by water from Liverpool to 
London in order to consult Sir Astley Cooper and Sir James 
Clarke. At this place her husband joined her, to make the 
discovery that even the most learned doctors may be found 
napping. The accomodations not being extensive, when the 
two physicians retired for consultation, Mr. Bethune was 
in a position to overhear their remarks. They had a pleas- 
ant interview; one relating how he on a certain occasion 
came very near to fighting a duel. The difiiculties and 
danger of the position occupied some time to describe, and 
they were about to separate when one recalled the patient. 
" But what shall we do with Bethune's wife ? " " Oh, give 
her the old pill," was the ready reply. It is superfluous to 
add that this most expensive medical attendance quickly 
terminated. 

It was not until the 7th of May, that the party sailed from 
Liverpool to the United States, and, in due time, reached 
Philadelphia. The church edifice, a very neat building in 
the Grecian style, was completed soon after his arrival, and 
solemnly dedicated to God by Mr. Bethune, who preached 



154 AIEMOm OF GEO. W. BETIIUNE, D. D. 

a sermon from Psalms xxvii., 4. Gratefully he had written 
from Rome : " What f^n excellent soul is Morris and the 
rest of them. How I will work for them when I get back." 
There was plenty to do and he plunged into it with all his 
might. His popularity increased ; and his being talked of 
for other pulpits made his position towards his own con- 
gregation more commanding and easy. 

In the month of July, he pronounced his discourse on 
" Genius" before the literary societies of Union College, and 
its opening sentence, ^^ Forsan et liaec olim meminisse jic- 
vahW'' was a bit of true prophecy. This effort of his at 
making a public address of a character not purely or even 
chiefly religious, was the first of a long train of brilliant 
lectures, which brought renown and even money to the 
popular minister, but whose chief use was, as he himself 
intended, to induce many to come and hear him preach the 
Gospel who would otherwise have stayed away altogether. 

G. W. B. to Mrs. J. B. " October 20, 1837- 

I fear you will scarcely believe me when I say that I have been so 
driven, as not to have five minutes' time to write, for a fortnight past, 
any thing but sermons. I have a pile of letters lying unanswered before 
me, that is distressing to look at. I fear I have undertaken too much, 
for, besides my Sunday sermons, I am carrying on in the week a course 
of lectures on the Ephesians, which I write out, and which give me more 
trouble than any other service. The new members of the congregation 
are to be found out and visited, and adjusted in their proper places ; 
besides which, I have to be at the end of everything, or it is ill done if 
done at all. You blame me for studying at night, but if it were not for 
those few still, uninterrupted hours of the twenty-four, I could not 
mnintain my position at all. I am now placed in a dangerous situation, 
for I enjoy a great degree of general popularity. Double the number 
are turned away from my church doors of those who get in at the 
evening service. I know I do not deserve this from any talents I have, 
and therefore I must strive to preserve such an opportunity of useful- 



SUCCESS IX PHILADELPHIA. 155 

cess by severe study, that study being direeted as far as I can do it, to 
making the gospel simple and plain. My health has not suffered from 
it, but, on the contrary, the trouble and anxiety from which I find a 
refuge in study wears, or would wear me down much more. I do not 
wish to murmur. The lot which God assigns me is best for me, and it 
is not often I show my trouble to any one, for I endeavor for the sake 
of others to keep a cheerful face ; but I have my afflictions and some- 
times I think they are far from being light." 

To THE Rev. Mr. M— . " Jan. 4, 1838. 

I am rather in difficulties myself (though this is enire nous), my 
church to outside appearance goes on prosperously, and there are few 
preachers in town, who seem to have the popularity I have just now, yet 
as an unfortunate author said to me the other day, ' It is very strange, 
that which every body praises, nobody buys.' My books, I mean my 
pews, go off very slowly. The hard times solve the riddle however." 

G. W. B. TO IMrs. J. B. '-March 10, 1838. 

During tlie whole of last week, I intended each day to write, 
but was really too unwell. I had to deliver a lecture before the Athen- 
ian Institute on Tuesday evening, and caught cold coming home. The 
Athenian Institute lectures correspond somewhat with those of the Stuy- 
vesant Institute of New York. They have been overwhelmingly popu- 
lar. It was computed that, after tickets for seventeen hundred persons 
were issued, they could have sold seven hundred more. My subject was 
* Socrates,' his life and opinions. 1 only used it, however, for an indi- 
rect argument in favor of the necessity of revelation, in which, if I may 
credit the opinions of my friends. Dr. Ludlow, and Mr. Biddle, I was 
quite successful. The lecture will probably be published in the Knick- 
erbocker Magazine, when I may have your judgment upon it. 

I have reason to believe that ray standing in Philadelphia is becoming 
higlier and higher every day. People who should have known me as 
my fother's son, when I first carae to town, now seek to know me, and 
I have a decided and acknowledged position among the scholars of the 
city. All this I only care for so far as it increases my influence as a 
minister, and may enable me to do good. Fame and mere popularity 
are, of all human pursuits, the most vaporous ; but to promote, as an in- 



156 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETIIUNE, D. D. 

strument in God's hands, the kingdom of his blessed Son, and point wan- 
dering souls back to their Father's house, is indeed an honour. — I am 
sorry to say my congregation increases slowly. The hard times are 
against us." 

From this period our minister became Doctor of Divinity. 
He received this degree causa honoris from the University 
of Pennsylvania in 1838, and for ten years, from 1839 to 
1849, was an active Trustee of that Institution. 

Mrs. J. B. to G. W. B. ''January 5, 1839. 

Since you left I have often read over the sweet lines you addressed 
to me> and never without tears. — I have been asked for them for the 
Intelligencer. I don't know whether it would be well to publish them ; 
I fear your growing popularity will excite envy. Your sermon of the 
evening has been much talked of. " 

G. V/. B. TO Mrs. J. B. " January 14, 1839. 

I am happy that you were pleased with the verses I addressed to you. 
If they have any merit it must arise from their being 
' The flow of feeling, 
Not of art. ' 

As to their being published, so far from having any objection, I wish 
it, and but waited to hear how you regarded them. I should like to pay 
openly a tribute of regard and grateful affection to my mother. But the 
Christian Intelligencer is not the place for them. In the first place they 
print abominably, making the most absurd errors, and then the lines 
would be buried there. No, if George Duffield will take the trouble to 
copy them distinctly into a clear hand, and carry them, or send them 
with my compliments to the Knickerbocker, I should like it better. My 
first verses to Mary were published there, and were copied all over from 
it. 

My hands are full. It is, however, my weekly seronons which press 
me so hard. It is a sad thing to have a little popularity as a preacher 
in a regular pulpit. The drain upon one is excessive, and there is no 
let up as the Yankees say." 



DEATH OF THE PATROON. 157 

Some of our readers may have seen a beautiful engraving 
which apjDeared about this time representing Washington in 
the attitude of prayer. He appears to have retired from 
the camp which is seen at a little distance, and to have 
knelt down under the covert of a thicket to ask counsel and 
guidance of God in his sore perplexity. Perchance it was 
at Valley Forge where his fortunes and his hopes touched 
the lowest point, perhaps it was before Yorktown where his 
toils and his faith were crowned with success. The en- 
graving was made in keeping with the representations of a 
Quaker who was eye-witness of the scene. This was used 
to illustrate the Cliristian Keepsake, and Mr. Bethune yielded 
to the request of Mr. L. G. Clarke to accompany the en- 
graving with a contribution. In these minor e5brts his pen 
had a facility which of itself would have secured feme and 
competency. 

In the latter days of January, 1839, occurred the death of 
the Patroon of Albany, the excellent and venerable Stephen 
Van Rensselaer. That this was a cause of heart-felt sorrow 
to Dr. Bethume we need not say for he has left a record of 
his feelings on the occasion. 

He writes to Mrs. Van Rensselaer on the 3d of February. 

" My Dear Madam : 

If I have not been among the first with words of sympathy, it was be- 
cause I dared not intrude at once upon the sacredness of your sorrow. 
But I can forbear no longer. The many kindnesses of him who has en- 
tered into his rest, the precious memory of many days spent within the 
home hallowed by his meek and gentle affection, and the frequent privi- 
lege of kneeling with you and yours to implore the grace of God's pres- 
ence in his hour of aflaiction, have given my heart the right to bleed with 
yours. 

Yet what shall I say? I need not speak of consolation. God has 
already given it. You have marked the perfect and beheld the upright, 



158 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETIIUNE, D. D. 

tliat the end of that man is peace. The patient siifferings over which 
you have watched so long are ended. His pains have ended. He is 
asleep in Jesus. The venerable head, hoary in righteousness, is now 
crowned with glory, the fight has been victorious, the race won, the 
faith kept. O what gain has death been to him. ' If ye loved me,' said 
Jesus, ' ye would rejoice because I said I go unto my Father. ' And 
he whom we love and mourn is with Jesus and the Father now. 

As I close this letter I am preparing to go to my pulpit that I may 
speak to my people of him whose hands laid the corner-stone of our lit- 
tle church. The text that I have chosen is Jeremiah ix., 23-24. But 
how will I dare to speak of all his worth to those who knew him not as 
I have known him. Yet to God must be given the praise of an example 
the most excellent in meekness, in quietness, nobleness, and kindness 
we have ever witnessed or read of in modern days." 

The sermon took True Glory for its theme and appeared 
in pamphlet form. It is also in the volume of " Bethune's 
Orations ;" but this is the summing up of the whole, it is 
not tiresome to read and will be its own apology : 

" Glorying in the Lord is not incompatible with the possession of 
wisdom., power, or riches. 

The highest glory of man, in this life, is to be the instrument of God's 
* loving kindness,' judgment and righteousness ; and none can be said ' to 
know him' aright, or ' understand ' the beauty of his character, wlio 
strive not to imitate him in the exercise of those admirable attributes. 

If, then, any degree of wisdom be ours, it is our high privilege to use 
it in the advancement of his glory, and the best good of our fellow men ; 
and the more wisdom we possess, the greater is our faculty for that bless- 
ed end. 

If we have any degree of p)ou'er, or influence in society, (and none of 
us is without some) it is our high privilege to use that influence for the 
vindication of the Redeemer's name, and the guidance of our fellow 
men in the way to glory ; and the greater our influence, tiie more effi- 
cient our example and zeal may be. 

If we have any degree of riches, it is our privilege, by a heavenly al- 
chemy, to turn the dross that perisheth, into eternal and incorruptible 



LITERARY LECTURES. 159 

treasures, which shall fill the treasury of God with the priceless jewels 
of ransomed souls ; and the greater our riches, the greater means we 
have for doing good in Christ's most holy name. 

Certainly, earth hath no nobler spectacle (and it is one angels leave 
heaven to contemplate) than that of a good man, preserving, amidst 
the temptations of wisdom, and power, and riches, his humble trust in 
God his Saviour, as his highest glory, and his delight in serving his fel- 
low men, as his next chiefest good. His is a wisdom the most ignorant 
must venerate ; a power the most malicious must approve ; and a wealth, 
which envy itself would hardly dare to steal. 

This wisdom, and power, and riches, may be attained by us all. For, 
though our learning may be poor, our influence narrow, and our means 
small, he ' that glorieth in knowing and serving the Lord,' hath done 
his duty, when he hath done, through Divine grace, what he could. 

It was a magnificent tribute of respect and honor to one 
of the best of men. " These things did Araunah as a king 
give unto the king." Dr. Bethune occasionally reposes 
himself from graver writings with a bit of facetioiisness, and 
then bis pen is apt to run away with him. " Tell sister 
Bell " he scribbles to his mother, " that I owe her many 
thanks for her kind present, my understanding as well as my 
heart is clothed with gratitude; and my memory must become 
slippery indeed if I am ever worsted in an endeavor to recall 
her deeds of love, which have my warmest approval though 
she thinks they were but so so, sew sew indeed they must 
have been. By the way the shoemaker 'who put them 
together, before he sent them home, jDut them in his window 
before which I saw quite a crowd of lovers of the fine arts 
flattening their noses in gaping admiration." 

Two other well known literary j^erformances came from 
his pen during this year, — the discourse on " Leisure, its Uses 
and Abuses, " delivered 9th March before the New York 
Mercantile Library Association, and the " Age of Pericles," 



160 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

read before the Athenian Institute of Philadelphia in the 
same year. These performances established a fime which 
future efforts maintained. 

A funny story is told of the grievous mistake of one of 
Dr. Bethune's old parishioners concerning the aim of the 
"Age of Pericles." When the lecture was to be repeated in 
Boston, he met liis formar pastor and said " Vf ell, doctor, 
I have bought a ticket and am coming to hear you to-night. 
When I told my wife about it, she asked, * But who is this 
Perikels ? ' " The good man pronounced the last syllable 
as in "barnacles." " The fact was that I never had heard oi 
the man, but I said, ' if you are such a fool as not to know 
that, it is high time for you to begin to study.' But now 
doctor do tell me, what is the reason that you are going to 
give a whole lecture about how^ long the old fellow lived?" 

" Whilst his reputation was thus culminating in Philadel- 
phia," writes the accomplished Dr. Dunglison, in his Obitu- 
ary Notice for the American Philosophical Society, "he vras 
energetically affording his powerful aid to every scheme for 
the promotion and diffusion of general literature and science? 
and for the good of his fellow men. Early and prominent 
among these was the 'Athenian Institute;' the object of 
wdiich W'?s to establish a course of lectures, to be delivered 
gratuitously by literary gentlemen of Philadelphia, and 
which, for a time, w^as eminently successful. The first course 
was given in the winter of 1838, and the last in that of 1842. 
Large and intelligent audiences assembled together to listen 
to the diversified discourses, of which none were more popu- 
lar than those of Dr. Bethune. 

In the different reunions of the respectable members of 
the Board of Directors of the Institute, he was placed in 
intimate intercourse with the first literary and scientific 



AMERICAN PHILOSOPHICAL SOCIETY. IGl 

gentlemen of the city, by whom his sterling qualities were 
at once appreciated, and his claims to be regarded as a true 
lover of wisdom cheerfully conceded." 

In April, 1839, a distinction was granted him, which he 
estimated as one of the highest to be found in our countrj^ 
— "Among the honors conferred upon me hitely," he 
writes to Mrs. J. B., "h a unanimous (very unusual) 
election to be a Member of the American Philosophical 
Society. Think of my being a philosopher.'' Of this 
Institution Dr. Dunglison furnishes the following sketch. 
" This venerable society which is so well known at home 
and abroad, and which reckons amongst its members many 
of the scientists of all nations, has been considered to owe 
its origin to a secret debating society called ' the Junto ' 
formed by Franklin in lT2t, which was limited to a small 
number of members, restricted in its objects and local in its 
character. This appears to have been kept up actively for 
a time, but on the increase of the Country it seemed to be 
necessary to have a society whose aims should be greater, 
and be more markedly a scientific body ; and accordingly 
Franklin in 1743, issued a circular entitled ' A proposal for 
promoting useful knowledge among the British Plantations 
in America ' ; and this was the real origin of ' The American 
Philosophical Society/ It appears, however, that in the 
year 1750, a new society was formed, also called 'the 
Junto ' and essentially resembling in organization the 
ancient Junto founded in 1727 of which indeed it was 
probably the sanctioned successor and this new Junto 
became amalgamated with the society founded in 1743, but 
not until the close of the year 1768, the united society 
assuming the name, as at present, of ' The xlmerican Philo- 
sophical Society, ' held at Philadelphia for promoting 
11 



162 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

useful knowledge, and on the second of January, 1Y69, held 
its first meeting and its first election. The society has 
from time to time published valuable volumes of its 
' Transactions,' which are issued regularly and dis- 
tributed to its members and to the various scientific 
institutions of all countries ; from which it receives in re- 
turn, as well as from distinguished physicists everywhere, 
the published accounts of their important labors." 

" It was," says Dr. Dunglison, " at one of the meetings of 
the Board of Directors of the Athenian Institute that I first 
saw Dr. Bethune, and I well remember the favorable im- 
pression he made on rae, as he did on all. We generally 
walked home together with Dr. Patterson, Judge Kane and 
Professor Dallas Bache, and often with our friend Mr. 
Benjamin W. Richards, taking our wives by surprise ; 
who, at times, were wholly unprepared to entertain us as 
they would have wished. And Dr. Bethune often mentioned 
the equanimity and hospitality of my own excellent wife 
when there was nothing but boiled eggs to offer us for 
supper, and referred with enthusiasm to its being one of the 
most agreeable reunions he had experienced. This was 
before the four gentlemen first mentioned had resolved 
themselves with me into the Club, if it may be so called, 
which Dr. Bethune suggested we should call " The Five." 
In this club we had no fixed evenings for meeting. It 
depended so much upon our meeting together at theAmerican 
Philosophical Society, or elsewhere. Occasionally a stran- 
ger was admitted ; but usually we were alone. In my 
memoir I state how much the pleasures of the evening were 
owing to Dr. Bethune, who was ever cheerful ; full of 
anecdote; and pointed, but judiciously and amiably directed, 
repartee. Never did I hear from him any allusion that 
could be the cause of discomfort to the most sensitive. 



16; 



After this period we were in tbe habit of seeing each 
other often. His mind was of the most scrutinizing kind, 
and many subjects we had been equally engaged in inves- 
tigating. Pbih^logical inquiries he was very partial to ; 
and when we returned from listeiiing to public or private 
lectures, there was always something we had heard which 
famished matter for inquiry, and which we had to decide at 
tim.es by a reference to some work in my library, with the 
richness of whicli on particular subjects, he often expressed 
his gratification. 

During his visit to me after he loft Philadelpliia, oc- 
casion often occurred for such reference ; and it was a 
source of real pleasure to my boys to aid us in our re 
searches. His advent on the occasion of such visits was 
always hailed with pleasure by my excellent wife, of whom, 
on the occasion of her death, he speaks in one of his letters 
(March 10, 1853) with so much of feeling and truth, as well 
as by my children." 

Having requested from Dr. Dunglison some account of 
the individuals composing this remarkable club, he replies, 
that he might be justiued, in sa3nng with the great dram- 
atist, of each of them : 

" ' His life was gentle, and the elements 

So mixed in him that nature might stand up 
And say to all the world, * This was a man.' " 

"These are designated in my 'Obituary Notice' as 
congenial spirits ; and it is difficult to imagine five that 
could be more so. Although by their avocations they had 
all been more or less restricted in their reading and studies, 
all might be regarded as conversant with those general 
accomplishments that appertain to the educated gentleman. 
It was difficult, therefore, to start any topic of inquiry 
and discussion in which they could not generally par- 



1G4 :memoir of geo. w. betiiune, d. d. 

ticipate, and on which liglit could not be thrown by one or 
more of the party ; and hence it is, that their meetings were 
happily designated by Judge Kane as ' quiet, joyous and 
instructive.' 

The very nature of their avocations necessarily led 
to their arguments being diversified. Dr. Robert M. 
Patterson, at the time Director of the Mint of the 
United States, had been, for many years, Professor of 
Natural Philosoph}^, first in the University of Pennsylvania, 
and, afterwards, in the University of Virginia. Judge 
Kane was an accomplished member of the bar, and after- 
wards Judge of the District Court of the United States 
Professor Alexander Dallas Bache was Professor of Natural 
Philosophy iu the University of Pennsylvania, and after- 
wards, and at the time of his death, the distinguished 
Superintendent of the Coast Survey of the United States. 
Dr. Dunglison was Professor of the Institute of Medicine 
in the Jefierson Medical College of Philadelphia ; and every 
one of ' the five ' had held offices in the American Philo- 
sophical Society, — Dr. Patterson, Judge Kane, and Profes- 
sor Bache as President, Dr. Dunglison as Vice President, and 
Dr. Bethune as a Member of the Board of officers. All are, 
alas ! gone except Dr. Dunglison.'' 

Between these gentlemen there was not only a pleasant 
intimacy, bat a league for mutual defence. When, after 
the death of Judge Kane, his reputation was assailed on po- 
litical grounds, it brought forth a rebuke from Dr. Bethune, 
perhaps the most severe he ever penned ; and when, 
at a later period, Professor Bache requested that the 
interests of Dr. Kane, the Arctic Explorer, should be pro- 
moted, appealing to the memory of " the Five," Dr. Be- 
thune felt the obligation and responded handsomely. 

He made good his right to these elevated distinctions. 



<<WISTER PARTIES." 165 

by repeated and higlily applauded lectures at the Smith- 
sonian Institute, urgently called for by Professor Henry, 
who was at the head of that foundation. Connected with 
the American Philosophical Society, there was a very 
remarkable social entertainment which went by the name 
of '' Wister parties.'' The name originated from Dr. 
Wister, who was President of the Society, and these meet- 
ings were designed to discuss scientific and philosophical 
subjects. They assembled the choice spirits of Philadel- 
phia, and distinguished strangers, in the most charming 
reunions, and became quite renowned. Drs. Bethune and 
Ludlow were constant attendants, and it was evident 
that their dignified presence gave a higher tone to the 
gatherings. 

In many ways this year, 1839, was an important era in 
Dr. Bethune's life. In the spring he printed his first 
volume entitled " The Fruit of the Spirit." He had already 
published addresses, contributed frequently to Magazines 
and Annuals, but now he came prominently before the 
public as author. The work was issued at the request of 
his congregation. Dr. W. J. R. Taylor says, 

*'It had passed through three separate processes of deUvery to his 
people ; first, briefly in the prayer-meeting, at another time in more en- 
larged form, in the weekly lecture, subsequently, in a course of Sab- 
bath sermons, and finally, he revised it for the press. It was liis favor- 
ite work, has passed through several editions, and bids fair to remain a 
household treasure for generations to come." 

In the autumn, the chapel of the New York Orphan Asy- 
lum, at Bloomingdale, was to be opened. This magnificent 
charity had grown up under the care of his mother, and 
now that it had become well established in a beautiful loca- 
tion, the son was requested to preach the sermon for the 



166 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

occasion. lu the month of June he was elected President 
of the General Synod of his church, and in this capacity 
addressed a letter to the Court of Holland, in reference to 
the Mission work in the Dutch possessions, and held fie- 
quent correspondence with the missionaries in the East. 
Dr. Hazlett relates his first introduction to Dr. Bethune : 

" Capt. Magruder said, * Come go Avith ms to hear Dr. Betliune lec- 
ture to-night.' It was very stormy, and they found only the sexton and 
an old woman as the audience ; but the Dr. rose, gave out a hymn, and 
sung it liimself. After prayer, and eloquent reading of scripture, he de- 
livered one of the most profound lectures I have ever heard. My friend 
said, ' "Why did you not keep that lecture for a better night. It was too 
good to throw away upon us.' The Dr. replied, ' It is my duty to 
preach the gospel to the best of my ability under all circumstances, and 
it is wrong to punish those who come in stormy weather, for the delin- 
quency of others.' I set him down then for a great man, and concluded 
that he preached the truth for the love of the truth, and not for the praise 
of men." 

On the 10th of April, 1841, news of the death of Presi- 
dent Harrison reached Philadelphia, and the next day found 
our ready preacher in his pulpit prepared to improve the 
solemn occasion. The sermon, which was a tender appeal 
to his countrymen, and thought worthy of publication, 
must have been prepared in the course of a few hours. 
The speaker did not belong to the same party as the Presi- 
dent, and with the greater freedom pronounced this sharp 
rebuke upon political bigotry : 

*' Standing, in our imagination, tliis morning, besicle the grave of our 
departed patriot, who, even of those that struggled most against Ms rise, 
can look down upon liis sleeping dust, nor feel a pang of keen reproach, 
if ever he hath done his honor wrong, or breathed a hasty word that 
might have touched liis honest heart, or cast an insult upon his time- 
honored name ? And vile, yes, very vile is he, whose resentments the 
grave cannot still. Whence this sacredness which death throws over 



DEATH OF PRESIDENT HARRISON. 167 

the memory of character and life ? Is it because tlie dead are defence- 
less, and return not an answer again ? Is it because God hath come in 
between us and our fellow creature, and vindicated his right to be judge 
alone ? Is it because in the humiliations of the sepulchre, we see the 
frailty of that nature we share with the departed, our own aptness to 
err, and how liable we are to be misjudged? O, my friends, why should 
we wait for death to teach us charity, when it is too late to practice it, 
and repentance hath become remorse ? Why not remember that the 
living require our candor and forbearance ? Why reserve all our gen- 
tleness of judgment for the dead, who are beyond the reach of our abso- 
lution ? They were once as the living, and the living shall soon be as 
they. It is, indeed, enough to bring us back to a better opinion of hu- 
man nature, to witness such a spectacle of union in sorrow and in honor 
for our departed chief among those, who, a little while since, were di- 
vided into earnest and opposing factions ; but oh ! would it not be far 
more ennobling, to see the living pledging themselves to the living over 
the fresh earth of his grave, that henceforth, though they may honestly 
differ in their doctrines and policy, they will yet believe in the upright- 
ness of each otlier's motives, and the sincerity of each other's belief? 
How hateful does censorious bitterness, and sneering suspicion look, in 
the face of your opponent ! Yet such is your deformity in his sight, 
when you revile liis principles and r.ail against his friends. When, oh! 
when shall tliis rancor, this cruel persecution for opinion's sake, this 
damning inquisition after false motives, this fratricidal rending of heart 
from heart because our mental vision is not the same ; this exiling of the 
honorable from the honorable, because they have not the same sibila- 
tion in their Shibboleth ; this waste of wealth, of mental power and un- 
tiring zeal, which our country, and our whole country should enjoy; 
when shall it cease ? Must it be perpetual ? I know that the words of 
a poor preacher are weak against tliis strong and vast-spreading evil ; 
but as I love my country, and God knows I love her from my inmost 
heart, and never more than in this hour of her sorrow, I must speak. I 
cannot believe that I have a right to hate and despise my brother, be- 
cause he reads another book than my own, or that he should hate and 
despise me, because conviction forces me to cling to mine." 

Mrs. J. B. to G. W. B. ''Aioril 30, 18*1. 

I was much pleased with your short discourse on our poor old 

President. I was afraid you would not acquit yourself so well, as you 



168 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

did not think as highly of him as some did. What a lesson we have 
had as a nation. I did not tliink I had as mucli American feeling in me 
as I felt on reading the account of his death ; my blood all tingled 
through my veins and I found relief only in tears. I retired as soon as 
I could and fell on my knees and prayed to God to sanctify the dispen- 
sation to the nation, a sinful, Sabbath-breaking and otherwise guilty 
nation, though exalted to Heaven in point of privileges." 

G. W. B. TO Mrs. J. B. ''Maij 1. 

I am glad you liked my little sermon. Would a Harrison man have 
done so much had my friend "Van Buren died? I felt as an American 
and as a Christian (I trust) and forgot party." 

And now we have to carry our popular minister through 
many months of gloom and depression. His continued 
speaking and the failure of his health from overwork brought 
in the earlier months of 1841, an attack of ''bronchitis, 
laryngitis, or both,'^ as his letters express it. He was per- 
emptorily forbidden by his physician to preach for two 
months; and could he have quietly submitted he might have 
bided over the trouble and saved himself much annoyance. 
His congregation paid him the compliment of declaring they 
could not do without him ; and forced him to obtain a writ- 
ten opinion from his phj^sicians, Bell, Chapman and Hodge, 
that a sea Yojage was absolutely necessary to him, before 
they would consent to his absenting himself. This paper 
convinced them, and with a total change of tone the Con- 
sistory voted a leave of absence for such time as should be 
necessary, and the substantial accommodation of two 
quarters' salary in advance was superadded. He writes in 

acknowledgement : 

''May 15, 1841. 

I thank the gentlemen of that meeting for their kind sympathy, for the 

leave of absence granted me, and their recommendation to the Board of 

Trustees that two quarters of my salary (for which I have no just 



VISIT TO EUKOPE. 1G9 

claim) be advanced to me in the present exigency. Every added proof 
of kindness from the people of my charge, deepens my affliction in 
being compelled to intermit for a season the labors in which I have 
found my great delight. 

I sliall pursue, with the leave of Providence, the advice of tliose 
medical gentlemen whose opinion is before you ; because their opinion 
in a matter of health, would naturally be preferred by a sick man, to 
that of any unprofessional adviser; because past experience of the 
effect of the sea on my constitution, and my present symptoms confirm 
me in believing their advice to be good ; and because I owe it to my^i-elf, 
to the church, and to God, to recover and preserve, so far as means 
may, that health without which I should lose my usefulness. 

That some proofs, that I have not acted precipitately in this 
matter, may be preserved, permit me earnestly to request that the 
letter of Doctors Bell, Cliapman a,nd Ilodge be copied on the minutes 
of the Consistory and the Board of Trustees. No one, wlio may read it, 
will have a right to blame, but will think that it was not unreasonable to 
grant me, after nearly four years' hard service of mind and body, a 
furlough for a few months when rest seemed essential to my recovery, 
and that rest, in the opinion of those who ought to know best, would be 
most profitably spent on shipboard." 

Accordingly Dr. Bethune sailed with his wife on the 
twenty-sixth of May, and arrived at Gibraltar on the twenty- 
fourth of June. On tlic nineteenth of July the travellers 
reached Naples, and a letter is at once sent homeward. 

G. ^y. B. to Mrs. J. B. " Naples, Juhj 19, 1841. 

Among our passengers on board the Oriental, was the second son of 
Walter Scott, rather a nice young man, going out as secretary to the 
Persian embassy. We made a little acquaintance together. Malta, you 
know, has been quite famous as the place where St. Paul was ship- 
wrecked, and we went to see the place where he is said to have shaken 
the viper from his hand. But alas for our antiquarian enjoyment, very 
good arguments are given to show that the apostle never was at Malta,* 
but that Melita was, and is, an island in the Adriatic." 

* Better arguments to show that he was. J3d. 



170 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

Naples was found delightful, Sorrento charming, every 
thing rose-color, and we may imagine that our classic minister 
enjoyed the time at Pompeii and Vesuvius, A letter received 
at Florence, from E. T. Throop, Esq., enclosed money and a 
sort of apology for the Rothschilds of Naples, who had 
hesitated to make a small advance ; and thus helped on his 
way, he made a hasty trip down the Rhine and pausing 
but little in London, reached home before the beginning of 
September. His trip had done him some good, but not as 
much as was hoped. But still "objectaminoiHsresistentice'' he 
chafed at the enforced quiet. '' It is impossible,'' he ssljs, ''to 
prevent myself from anxiety, but I pray to be able to look to 
Him who can and will sustain his tried but trusting children, 
I try to keep my spirit willing, but my fiesh is weak.'' He 
was forbidden the segar by the inexorable Bell, and the 
deprivation was great. It is related of him that a brother 
clergyman with whom he had frequent disputes on points 
of doctrine, came into his study one morning and found him 
enveloped in the blue and fragrant wreaths. " What, 
smoking?" gasped the visitor, uplifting his hands in 
astonishment. '* Yes," said the doctor, very coolly, " I am 
trying to preserve my orthodoxy," 

But he could better bear the loss of nicotine, than the 
secession of a part of his congregation, which came with 
the frightfully hard times. 

He writes to Mrs. J, B., February 14, 1842. 

" Every thing here is u^jside down, far worse than in New York. We 
have no money at all that we can rely upon. I went to tea one night 
last week thinking that I had twenty-five dollars in my pocket, and when 
I went out next morning, found that it was barely worth fifteen. There 
never was such diflOlculty knoAvn before. 



LETTERS. 171 

• Eheu fugaces 
labuntur anni.' " 

He writes a little later to his friend Mr. May : 

''Feb. 22, 1842. 

My health, about which you so kindly express anxiety, is, I am happy 
to say, improving. My A-oice is still weak, and I suppose must remain 
so for a time at least. I continue to preach but once a day, and keep in 
the house at night. I am sometimes impatient I fear, but then again I 
remember the goodness of my gracious Master to me in times past. 
How much permission he has given me to work for him, how long my 
voice has been granted to me ! O surely then I ought to rejoice that I 
am in his hands, yes, in those faithful hands,, the hands of my elder 
brother, that was nailed for me upon the cross. That dear union of 
Divine strength and human weakness, (except sin) how precious is the 
thought of it to our hearts when we feel ourselves weak and unworthy ! 
We have a good master to serve. The joy of serving him is wages 
enough. 

The flare-up in my congregation has subsided ; instead of doing me 
hurt, they have done me much good. 

My heart has been very sad from the loss of many friends by death. 
Four or five gentlemen of high intellectual character, with whom I was 
in the habit of frequently associating, have been buried within a few 
weeks, and another now lies very low." 

G. W. B. to Mrs. J. Bethune, March 14. 

" Next Friday I shall be thirty-seven. I feel much older. I have 
grown ten years older in the last year. It is impossible for me to rise 
above the weakness of mind and heart. I know God is good, that 
I have ten thousand blessings, that I deserve none, yet I am depressed, 
not ungrateful, I hope, nor murmuring, but depressed." 

The secession or flare-up in the congregation was oc- 
casioned by a visit to San Carlo in Naples, the largest opera- 
house in Europe. It was the Queen's birth-day, and there 



172 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHU^E, D. D. 

was to be a grand performance, and an assembly of all the 
nobility. Mrs. Bethune had a great curiosity to see the 
show and hear the music ; and the faithful husband would 
not allow his invalid wife to go alone. The house was 
brilliantly lighted, and with their cultivated musical taste 
the entertainment must have been delicious. They did 
not go for the opera, but rather to see the great people, and 
soon retired. The chaise d porteur in which Mrs. Bethune 
went was likely to attract attention, and the news was 
straightway sent across the Atlantic. Upon Dr. Bethune's 
return home, and after his first sermon, he was assailed 
on this account by a prominent lady of his congregation. 
Endeavoring to explain the circumstances, she would listen 
to nothing, but said " That is enough, take my name off 
your church books." Others left with her, and the affiiir 
brought the persecuted minister to a sick bed. 

The following anecdote has been carefully shaped and 
sent to us, giving another instance of unkind judgment of 
this most godly man. 

"On a former visit to Europe," writes our friend "the 
Rev. Mr. Kirk, now (1845) Dr. Kirk of Albany, being in 
Paris at the same time, they used to gratify their love for 
music together. On a particular Sunday evening they had 
been singing some songs appropriate to the day, when a 
third party, a gentleman of many admirable qualities yet 
having no deep sympathy with religious men, but still ])ro- 
fessing to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God 
(by the way the last clause is rather as tlie Hebrew of 
Micah has it, vi., 8, and in the margin Humhle thyself to 
walk with God), was occupying apartments in the same 
house. Their exercises had ceased, and Mr. Bethune was 
passing to his own room. Our young friend, who now 



CTIPvISTTAX UNTOX. 173 

holds p. proiiiincrit position in his ]^rofossion, M'as then on 
his trnvels, and greatly was he scandalized, and at a verv low 
figure did he estimate the genuineness of Bethnne's earnest- 
ness when he overheard him on that Sunday evening in 
Paris, after those sacred harmonies, humming on his way 
the melody of an amusing secular song very common then 
or before in New York. 

It was the mind relaxed from its attentions roaming free 
in its associations, the playful predominating, all unconscious 
to its possessor. Quite as unconscious doubtless was he of 
the tune he struck upon as of the listener, and of the 
impression he was making, or that the incident was to be 
remembered and told again. Ah ! if people had known 
the man in his close walk with God how would he have been 
saved frona this censorious spirit. 

About this time he was frequently called to meet Dr. 
Stephen H. Tyng on great public occasions. They were 
the leading ministers of the city, both in the prime of life ; 
sometimes they would indulge in sallies of wit directed 
against each other. It is related that one year at the con- 
clusion of the Anniversaries, Dr. Tyng expressed the great 
pleasure that he had derived from the meetings ; the union 
of Christians here giving him a sweet foretaste of that 
perfect communion v/hich would be formed in heaven ; 
when he was unfortunate enough to hint that all the good 
people would come to his stand-point and occupy themselves 
witli prayer-books. Instantly Dr. Bethune was on his feet. 
" He felt exactly the same delight as his Reverend Brother, 
in the privilege of mingling with believers, the joy of union 
in the Lord ; and it brought vividly before him the idea of 
that great heavenly concert which had been so beautifully 
described by the preceding speaker, but he concluded there 
was one thouo;ht that had never before occurred to his 



174 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETIIUXE, D. D. 

mind, that in heaven all the Christians would become 
''Dutch Reformed." It is needless to add that the audience 
were convulsed with laughter at this most ridiculous propo- 
sition. 

In April, the hospitality of Dr. Bethune's house was 
offered to Mar Johanan, the Nestorian Bishop ; a truly pious 
man, who became so fond of his host, that he could not be 
persuaded to change his residence during his stay in Phila- 
delphia. 

In the summer of this year, he visited Boston and 
mingled freely with the celebrities there. Speaking of the 
Phi Beta Kappa, he says : " Mr. W. B. Reed did capitally 
with his oration," and he adds, "certainly I never heard 
more wit in the same time from the different speakers. It 
was a constant coruscation. I had to speak among the rest, 
and they say I did pretty well, but it was totally unexpected 
to me, and I was miserably frightened. I have received 
much attention from literary men and others, indeed my 
time has been constantly occupied. Bancroft, the historian, 
has been indefatigable in his attentions. Mr. Justice Story 
has also been very kind. I spent an evening with Allston, 
the great painter of this country, and have been all to-day 
and yesterday looking at his and other pictures ; there are 
a great many good ones in Boston. Prescott sent me a 
kind message, but I have been unable to see him or Dana. 
I have been invited in the evening by a Mrs. S., sister-in- 
law of our Mrs. S. Mrs. L., (wife of the eminent lawyer) 
Mrs. H., who is the very sweet wife of a most accomplished 
young man, and Mr. Abbot Lawrence have paid me atten- 
tion. 

G. "W. B. TO Miss C M . " Philadelphia, September 28. 

My dear Child : I have really been trying to find time for an epis- 
tolary chat with you ever since I received your last and abounding 



TRANSCENDENTALISM. 175 

letter, the more welcome because abounding, but I have not had a 
moment's leisure except when completely tired of holding the pen, and 
unfit to think. I am writing now with a sermon just brouglit to its 
divisions, looking up imploringly in my face ; that must be finished, and 
another, with diverse other things, before Sunday. I am also busy 
upon my lectures, the four for the Athenian Institute, which require 
much time in searching out references and in making plain my style 
upon such abstract subjects. I have also to write within two weeks the 
first lecture of the season for the Sunday school teachers, who turn out 
in great numbers, and expect something elaborate. All this and much 
more could be done very well if I had my time without interruption, 
but you know how it is here. I want very mucli to get at my book on 
the angels, which I am determined (Providence permitting) to write 
this season. I have become so full on the subject that the distension is 
painful. 

By the way, speaking of books puts me in mind of Tayler Lewis, 
whom you spoke of in a letter sometime since as being a neighbor of 
yours. You may well like his ' Believing Spirit,' (is not that the title ?) 
for it is a glorious burst of high philosophical feeling. No doubt Plato 
was wrong in many things, he was not the sober, unromantic though 
earnest thinker that liis master was, but his immortal longings were very 
noble. Transcendentalism is platonisra run mad, and yet, transcen- 
dentalism, mad and mischievous as it is, has done much good in Boston, 
and bids fair to destroy old Unitarianism by spiritualizing the reasonings 
of people. Unitarianism is the offspring of materialism, and the day of 
materialism is wellnigh at an end. 

The Synod made me one of their committee to select hymns for a 
Sunday school book. At first I thought I would have nothing to do 
with it, as we can not have a better book than the American Union's. 
But then I thought again, it will add so many to the hymns appointed 
to be sung in our churches. Now here 's a chance for you. Mark for 
me all the hymns you love, and your father loves, and your mother 
loves, and your sisters love, that the object can allow, and we will try 
to get in as many as we can and have nice times in singing them by and 
by Give me some of your own also. Just put on a paper the num- 
bers and then mark the book in which they are. 

Your punning in your last about my Phi Beta Kappa toast was 



170 MEMOIR OF GEO. TV. BETHUNE, D. I). 

Kaplial. Dr. Johnson himself could not say Phi ! upon such wit, but 
would exultingly exclaim of you, Let the Fun dits try to Beta (beat her). 
But really this is terrible. My trying to equal you reminds me that 
the over-ambitious are liable to the fate of Esop's frog and steam 
boilers. You will not believe me the less, because I put it just at the 
close, that I shall be very happy, and I am sure my dear wife to whom 
you have been such a comfort will be, to have you with us tliis winter. 
Come as soon as you can, and thank your kind parents in our name 
for letting you come. Love to all. 

Yours veiy sincerely, G. W. B." 

The month of Septeraber, was marked by the delivery 
of the discourse on the " Eloquence of the Pulpit," before 
the Porter Rhetorical Society of the Theological Seminary 
at Andover. This oration has the distinction of being 
the longest, if not the greatest, of his printed addresses. 

Mrs. J. B. to G. \Y. B. " December 30. 

I write to state that Miss Murray called to ask if it would be agree- 
able to you to preach the sermon for the widows in the Dutch Church, 
Lafayette Place. Dr. Knox expressed a wish to have it there. Dr. 
Potts also said he would like to have you in his church; of course I 
said Lafayette would be the most suitable. I heard Dr. Potts preach 
two charity sermons last Sabbath; both admirable, one for Home 
Missionaries in his own church which brought out $ 500, the oth-er in 
Button's church in the evening ; text, ' He hath dispersed, he hath given 
to the poor.' .... In speaking of relieving the wants of the poor, he 
said we ought not merely to supply their immediate wants, but endeavor 
to elevate. Now a political economist would rather take another view; 
endeavor to sustain and prevent from falling into irremediable indi- 
gence. At least this must iirst be done." 

This letter relates to Dr. Bethune's sermon before 
the Widows' Society ; and his provident mother gives him 
full advice concerning the way in which to preach it. 



EPISCOPAL CONTROVEP.SY. 177 

G. W. B. TO Mrs. J. B. ''April 30, 1843. 

We are surrounded by excitements witii reference to the Episcopal 
Controversy, and certainly the tendency that Avay is checked, but the 
fashionable world is on their side. I am sick of the whole business, and 
have been busy preaching justification by faith." 

The controversy thus alluded to, was the famous one be- 
tween Drs. Potts and Wainwright, originating in the sen- 
timent uttered by Hon. Rufus Choate, in his celebrated 
oration before the New England Society, delivered in the 
old Broadway Tabernacle, Dec. 20, 1842, ' A church without 
a Bishop, and a State without a King.' There were several 
points in it which must have made it a peculiar trial to Dr. 
Bethune. Dr. Potts was the pastor of his mother, and they 
were frequently brought into the closest relations, while Dr. 
Wainright was a most intimate friend. Perhaps there were 
few houses in New York where Dr. Bethune was so fre- 
quently and generously entertained, as at that of his Epis- 
copal brother. The debate waxed hot and wrathy, and 
good Dr. Potts, with all his strength of argument and clas- 
sic beauty of style, did not shew the same dexterity in 
management as distinguished his acute assailant ; and the 
proud Presbyterian banner for a time passed under a 
shadow. A caricature appeared of a man hurling a big 
wheel at a large assembly of jars, which were thrown into 
great consternation. 

Short sketches of the more distinguished public charac- 
ters now appeared in the New York Sun. In this gal- 
lery our illustrious Doctor shone conspicuously. " I send 
you," he writes to his mother, October 28, 1843, "for 
your amusement, the sketch of your son in the Sun, the man 
in the moon is nothing to such a solar luminary. It is per- 
fectly ridiculous." This paper, while it has little merit in 
12 



178 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETIIUNE, D. D. 

itself, yet serves to show the high position he ah'eady occu- 
pied in the public view. During one of his summer excur- 
sions in Pennsylvania, he came in the vicinity of a preacher 
of the doctrine of ''Perfection," and was led by curiosity 
to attend his lecture. These men are not settled preachers, 
but rove about the country addressing such audiences as 
they can collect, assuming an air of superior virtue, and 
unsettling the minds of good people, by extravagant views. 
On this occasion the preacher had his house full, and Dr. 
Bethune found it more agreeable to take his position at a 
window. The argument being ended, an invitation was 
given to any one present to reply ; this was done for effect, 
as it was quite certain that in a plain country audience, no 
one would be prepared to make a speech. But, to the dis- 
may of the orator, a clear voice from the window rang 
through the church : 

" Paul said in liis Epistle to the Galatians, that when Peter was come 
to Antioch, Paul withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. 
Now if Peter was right, then Paul was wrong, if Paul was right, then 
Peter was wrong. One of these great Apostles must have been imper- 
fect." 

The Perfectionist, not seeing the person who spoke, and 
confused with the well-made point, cried out, " Is that the 
voice of Satan, or one of his imps that I hear ? " Our 
brave Doctor, thus challenged, quickly presented himself 
to the people. Announcing his well-known name, he said, 
that the simple Scripture he had quoted, refuted the long 
harangue, and advised them all to go home and not be dis- 
turbed by such folly. Wherever the man afterwards went, 
he had dinned into his ears, " If Paul was right, then Peter 
was wrong, and if Peter was right, then Paul was wrong." 



RIOTS IX PHILADELnilA. 179 

For some years there had existed in Philadelphia a spirit 
of lawlessness, which was rather enconraged than sub- 
dued by the weak City Government. The Native American 
party was now putting on its strength, and as its efforts 
were directed against the foreign element in the popula- 
tion, its advance created a corresponding bitterness of 
feeling on their part. An important election was now in 
prospect, and animosity ran high, until in May, 1844, the 
forces came into actual conflict. For some days the streets 
of that city were turned into a theatre of civil war. As 
nearly as we remember, the Romish party took the lead in 
aggressive movement, and the discovery of a large number 
of fire-arms which had been concealed in the church of St. 
Philip de Neri, excited the most extravagant fears among 
the Americans. The riots now assumed more alarming 
proportions ; the military were called out, and many of 
the mob were shot down before the disturbance was 
quelled. A reference to these disorders occurs in the fol- 
lowing letter : 

G. W. B. TO Mrs. J. B. *' May 21, 1844. 

My Dearest Mother: You will be glad to hear that we are all 
well, after the exciting times through which we have passed. Persons 
at a distance, I find, estimate our danger to have been greater than we 
thought it ourselves. It was very dreadful to hear the roar, but the 
noise came not near us, and, perhaps, we never were safer, because 
guarded on every hand by vigilant patrols. The catholic population are 
prodigiously frightened, and they ought to be, as it was their outrageous 
and murderous violence, which led to all the mischief. The disgrace is 
great, but I cannot doubt that the effect in the long run will be good." 

At this exciting period, perhaps a little earlier, Dr. Bethune 
delivered the annual sermon before "The Foreign Evangelical 
Society," which was organized to oppose the power of 



ISO MEMOIR OF GEO, "SV. BETIIUNE, D. D. 

Popery. The text was 2. Cor. ix., 8 - 14, the subject, " The 
strength of Christian Charity." It was a most elaborate 
production, and v.diile teaching h^ve to all, it was a strong 
blow aimed at the Romish system : 

'* But the advocate of this cause may take yet higher ground. It is, 
as we have proved, indispensable to the triumph of evangelical truth, 
that its friends be united in catholic love, and concert of action. We 
must make practical that article of our faith, which holds to one church, 
and one communion of saints. The hosts of anti- Christian Rome are 
many, but never divided. One heart, beating within the Vatican, circu- 
lates one zeal through all the monstrous body, which returns again to 
feed the fountain of its pernicious life. Popery knows no country, but 
mingles with all people ; speaks all languages, but one creed ; shouts 
for democracy in xlmcrica, and excommunicates the liberals of Spain; 
demands repeal for Ireland, and arrests in France the movement of 
July ; tolerates no other religion when it has the power, and whimpers 
of persecution if, in Protestant lands, the Bible is read in the schools. 
It speaks from the imperial city, and in ail the world, cardinal and pre- 
late, and monk and priest and penitent own, by mystic sign and ready 
genuflexion, devout submission. Its eyes are upon every man ; its voice 
is heard in royal cabinets and republican legislatures ; its hands tamper 
with the absolute sceptre and pollute the ballot box ; its learning gives 
tutors to the children of the great, and opens free schools of error for 
the children of the many; its charities mingle the poison of idolatry 
with bread for the hungry and medicines for the sick. Everywhere it is 
one, though in a thousand shapes. Who can avoid admiration of the 
vastness, the energy, and the system of its combination ! No wonder 
they are so strong, when they are so united. 

Brethren, let the tactics of an enemy teach us the method of success 
which the Gospel has taught in vain. There are portions of the Christian 
world not papal, whose narrow bigotry refuses union with us ; but what, 
except unworthy suspicions and weakness of faith, prevents a Catholi- 
cism of evangelical servants under one Head and High Priest, Jesus? 
Why should we know country, or language, or race, when wo are chil- 
dren of one Father and servants of a mission to the world? 



SERMON ON ROMANISM. 16] 

Let us also consider the opportunities and means of usefulness which 
our European brethren enjoy. The fabrics of superstition which 
here are new and modified, there are crumbling to ruins, tottering in 
decayed ugliness to their fall. The people more than suspect the alli- 
ance of priesthood and tyranny to grind them in bondage. Every blow 
now aimed at the despot, strikes the bigot ministers of a desecrated 
cross. If the Bible be not recognized as the charter of freedom, the 
right to read it will be claimed as the privilege of freemen. The sympa- 
thies of every liberal heart are with a free religion, every advance of 
popular rights opens the way for the Gospel, and each hour is big with 
portents of far-spreading changes. 

I would not speak in disparagement of learning with proper limits as 
an aid to religion. But the church has too much idolized learning and 
authority, ever since the Reformation. And what has been the conse- 
quence? In university after university, on the continent of Europe, 
professors of theology have substituted a proud rationalism for the child- 
like faitli of Jesus ; and still more recently tlie most venerable seat of 
learning in Britain has startled the Protestant world with the bad design 
of uniting learning, genius and taste, in a conspiracy to bring back the 
ages of darkness upon the world, when tlie few ruled the many and fat- 
tened the priesthood. Popery again uplifts her bruised and brazen face 
in hope, as she sees one so hoary witli years entering her noviciate, ap- 
ing her pretensions, copying her garments, and practising her mummer- 
ies ; boasting her titles, bearing aloft her symbols, and attempting, with 
ridiculous failure, the thunder of her anathemas. Not a few Christians 
prognosticate a general miscliief, and would invoke some Christian Her- 
cules to slay the Hydra that comes forth from deeper shades than the 
Lerngean swamp to ravage the Church. 

Our friends in France and Switzerland have taught us better means 
and better hopes, by sending an army of simple men, with no other 
weapon than the pure Gospel on the h.oly page ; and God, who blessed 
the rod of Moses, and the hammer of Jael, and the labours of primitive 
Christianity, has blessed, and will bless, the colporteurs with their Bibles 
and tlieir Tracts. Already they diffuse the holy leaven. Already have 
many souls been brought to God. Already does superstition gnash her 
tectli, as she feels the net drawn closer and closer around her by the 
multitudes of these faithful men. Let us but increase the army as we 
may, and Babylon herself shall fall before tliem. Strength is in their 
weakness, for the excellency of the power is of God. 



182 MEMOIR or GEO. \V. BETHUNE, D. D. 

Consider, also, our deep interest in their successes. Already do many 
Christians tremble at the incursions of popery upon our own soil. A 
little while since, some of us may have smiled at these fears as vision- 
ary. The light of the nineteenth century seemed too great in this land 
of free thought to allow the influence of such superstition over a single 
mind not educated under it from early life. But have we not seen with- 
in a few years past, thousands of converts flockiug round the standard of 
a vulgar, ignorant, and vile leader, whose pretensions to prophecy would 
have been contemptible had they not been so mischievous. Have we 
not also been astonished at the defection of grave and educated men 
from the simple Gospel, as it is written in God's own word, to the au- 
thority of shadowy tradition ; who, while they insist upon a church in a 
priesthood of doubtful genealogy, would revive the aristocracy of an- 
cient Pharisaism, which accounted the common people as little better 
than profane. The growth of Mormonism among the vulgar, and of this 
perversion of Christian doctrine which has no name of sufficient dignity 
for utterance here among the more refined, shew us too plainly that 
the human mind in no circumstances can be preserved from superstition 
except by the Spirit of God. 

We are not then safe from Romanism. Every eastern wind wafts 
hitherward its priests and adherents laden with gifts to corrupt our 
people. Already has the cry been heard arousing Christians to defence 
of truth and freedom. But whence do they come. Why stand we only 
on the defensive. Why may we not cross the sea and besiege Car- 
thage? Why not plant our vanguards on the passes of the Alps, send 
our spies into the very camp of the enemy, and await the happy mo- 
ment (which, if it please God, is not distant,) when, like Atilla, though 
with better weapons and higher aims, we may thunder at the gates 
of Rome itself ? When ancient Rome fell, tlie empire was broken into 
fragments. When papal Rome falls, popery will soon be no more. 
Cue blow on the head is worth a hundred at its extremities. One thrust 
to its heart, and all the convolutions of its myriad folds will relax in 
death. Are there no smooth stones in ' the brook that flows fast by the 
oracles of God'? Is there no shepherd boy nor herdsman's son among 
those mountain Christians to wield a sling? 

Christian brethren, I have done. " 

This sermon was originally delivered in New York, hiii 



LETTER OF MR. ORR. 183 

either this discourse, or one similar in spirit must have been 
spoken in Philadelphia, and produced a happy effect. Dr, 
Bethune seems to have consented to its publication, but up- 
on reflection changed his mind, when we find the matter 
urged upon him in the following courteous letter. 

Hector Orr to G. W. B. « May 27, 1844. 

Ret. Sir : I have received your note instead of your MS. ; no per- 
sonal inconvenience will be felt through your decision, for which you 
certainly have high authority, since John Knox himself turned back 
from Scotland, through the advice of friends. (I had written this when 
Mr. Clark came in to get the ' copy ' ; I made him acquainted with 
your latest views, and he in return informed me you were most probably 
out of the city. My first inclination was to lay down the pen until a 
better excuse for using it arrived, but having thought much about the 
sermon and caused you to send more than once, from more than 
a mile's distance, ' I wish to put on record' my reasons for urging the 
publication.) 

It has been my high privilege from early years to have intimate 
intercourse with some of the most devoted Christians of this my native 
city, an intimacy such as few without the pale of the church have 
enjoyed — qualifying me to some extent, to enter into the feelings of 
this great and venerable class at this time. The peculiar point on which 
attention was first excited in this movement — the banishment of the 
Bible — touched a chord in these men's breasts such as is unknown in the 
moral anatomy of the demagogue ; next, the murder of their friends and 
neighbors wrung this chord to torture, and their desertion by the secular 
press completed the outrage ; and while suffering under this delirium, 
infidel eavesdroppers have been apt to catch their exclamations and 
report them as ' the sentiments of the party.' 

To you, much honored friend, who, through elegant leisure or 
refined toil, have long been familiar with ' man's duty and the reasons^ 
of it,' /need not stop in my drudgery to say that this fever in the whole 
evangelical community is undesirable, or that it would be high Christian 
kindness to allay it ; but this fact may have escaped you, that nothing 
well adapted to this end has yet .appeared, except your sermon. In my 



184 MEMOIR OF GEO. AV. BETIIUNE, D. D. 

short experience I have found it a first requisite to the pacification of 
chafed human nature, to evince a hearty appreciation of the cxcHing 
wrong. Thence springs that confidence so indispensable to successful 
persuasion, through which we become willing to be led in the way cf 
peace, which in the present crisis is so eminently the path of duty. 
This real sympathy with the torn heart of Philadelphia you alone have 
exhibited, and I sought to extend the infiuence of this word fitly spoken, 
beyond the mere compass of your voice." 

About the same date wrote the Hod. Charles Sumner, of 
Boston: 

" How exalted in the scale of beneficence is he, whose labors con- 
tribute to extend the culture and capacity of the human soul — to open 
new vistas of knowledge, to awaken dormant impulses and suscepti- 
bilities, to enlarge the sphere of study and action, to strengthen faith. 
Your generous exertions in this field, have already found a reward in 
the applause of good men, and in the consciousness of doing good, to 
which my mite can add nothing." 

" From grave to gay". 

G. W. B. TO Miss Caroline May. " Saratoga Springs, Aug. 3. 

My dear child : I write to you because you sent me such a nice letter, 
on the first, which I received this morning, and because I wish to talk 
music. 

I have heard Ole Bull ; my ear is now vibrating witli the most atten- 
uated, sweetest, softest note it ever heard ; his last this evening. He is 
about six feet one or two inches high, and well made, his head good 
though rather low, but long, and particularly square or rectangular at 
the sides. He wears his hair very plain and no moustache. His face 
is not handsome but honest, and at times intense. His music dis- 
appointed me. Ever since he came here I have been accumulating 
expectation, and as that has been for months, it was very high. I am 
disappointed. He has exceeded my highest imagination. No trick, no 
playing on one string, no convulsive eflforts, but clear, perfect tone. 



OLE BULL. 185 

steady boAving, and a perfect mastery of all his instruments. His 
opening piece was in three parts ; a sweet, subdued allegro, then a very 
pure adagio, and then a graceful pastoral ; in the first, he played at one 
time a complete trio with the bow, each part distinctly marked, and tlie 
harmony admirable and somewhat complicated ; in the second he had a 
pizzicato passage beyond any thing I could ever dream of; it was better, 
yes, better than any harp, and while this was going on Avith his finger, 
his bow was busy with delicious, steady accompaniment to the staccato 
movement. The last part was distinguished by a passage so like a 
piccolo, that no piccolo was ever so good. His next piece was his 
Carnival of Venice. His imitations were of Punch and Judy in their 
box ; you could almost hear the words. Then a lady sang who was very 
frightened, you could hear her gasping for breath; then a bird sang; 
any canary would have broken its heart with envy to hear itself out- 
warbled, and all this on the theme of " O come to me when daylight 
sets." After this he played a mother's prayer; slow, sweet, solemn, 
and reverent, than tender, pleading, earnest — then anxious, dep- 
recatory, and then by chromatic crescendo, shivering with importunate 
supplication, until the mother's heart was poured out, and peace filled 
it, and she hushed herself to repose. His last piece on the bill was a 
warlike Polacca, various in character, and bringing all his powers in 
play, the last twenty bars of rich, steady bowing the very best of the 
evening, and beyond conception good. An encore brought him out 
again, when he played Hail Columbia and Yankee Doodle, but not as 
astonishingly as Max Bohrer." 

We give here another letter on the same subject, to the 
same young music-loving friend. 

"Philadelphia, Nov. 11. 

My Dear Caro : (Is it the 11?) (Monday it is.) I should have 
written before, but have been sick in bed with a cold, not aple to preach 
any yesterday, and only once the Sunday previous and Mrs. B. has been 
and is still (for I am better,) worse than I, Avitli the same influenza. 
So it is when you are not here. 

*' Tliere's iiae luck about the Jiouse" when Caro's in New York. 

I thank you for your kinkness in writing, your letters are always wel- 



186 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

come for your sake and their own. Let me see what I can tell you in 
return. 

We can get no organist to suit us : M. L. has turned out an astonish- 
ing genius, and we think of trusting to him, at least till we can find one 
really excellent. Maggie S. and I went some time since to hear an Eng- 
lishman (and I think a Jew), Henry Philips, sing Handel, and liked 
him very well. He told us, by the way, that Catalani and Malibran and 
Paganini were of Jewish blood. I knew Rossini, Meyerbeer, Mendels- 
sohn, Braham &c., were, but never thought the three names above could 
be. 

* Apropos des bottes ', as our friend Dr. B. says, talking of Paganini 
puts me in mind of what happened last Monday to Mrs. B., at about one 
o'clock. In came Mr. Scherr and, and, and, — Ole Bull — and, and, 
and, his violin ! ! I had said to Mr. Scherr, a day or two before, that Mrs. 
B. would be so happy if she could hear Ole Bull, when he said he would 
ask him, and on Saturday he sent me word that he would come on Mon- 
day at noon; and (being told to ask nobody) Mrs. E. came over to 
be the dowager, and Maggie came to be the young lady, and good Mr. 
Nevius, the missionary, happened to be here, and Ole Bull after chatting 
awhile with Mrs. B. , who satin her wheeled chair to prove that she was 
an invalid, opened the violin case, and said that his ' effects' were cal- 
culated for a greater distance than he could have in Mrs. B's little par- 
lor, and so, to Annie's utter consternation, he went into the back room, 
which, like Richard III., was but half made up. He stood before the 
wardrobe, the doors open between the rooms, and played — first the fa- 
mous Melancolie, with the tremolo passage, and then an air or two varied 
in the most exquisite style ; then we all thanked him, Mrs. B. with tears 
in her eyes ( I told her to cry if she could). Then he began again and 
played 'Auld Robin Gray;' you could tell the very place where her 
father ' broke his arm,' and where * we tore ourselves away '. From this 
he passed on to an air of Rossini, and then went into the best parts of 
the 'Carnival of Venice.' I have heard him play three times in public, 
but never better than here. Now think, my little lady, what you miss- 
ed by not being here. Maggie sang ' Solitario, ' and then he promised 
Mrs. B. to come in the evening and play 'The Mother's Prayer', 
which needs a piano accompaniment, so please to come and play it. 
Annie thought Bull was well enough, but that Miss S. was better 
than all the fiddles (fiddles was the word) in the world ! ! ! 



MUSICAL CORIlESrONDEXCE. 187 

I told her that Bull was tho how ideal of music — but she did not take. 

'Dear o me, ' I have filled my sheet with Ole Bull, which I did not 
mean to have done. 

I am very glad Dempster was grateful enough to you for the trouble 
you took, to go up and sing for you. I should like to have his airs to 
my songs. 

Here is a letter all about music, as if I thought of nothing else; but 
somehow music and Caro always go together in my thoughts. Caro and 
caro lling. 

My best regards (Mrs. B. is asleep) to all your kind family, and be- 
lieve me as ever, my dear child, 

Your affectionate friend, 

George W. Bethune." 

W. R. Dempster to G. W. B. *' Odoher 8, 1844. 

Rev. and Dear Sir : I received your valuable and agreeable corres- 
pondence on my arrival home, and ought to have acknowledged the favor 
before this time, but Iwas desirous first to be able to give you some account 
of my progress. I am now extremely happy in being able to do so, sofar 
satisfactorily. The four songs which you sent are all beautiful. I liavc 
set two of them. ' I hae a cup,' I have sung before the public, and 
it has made quite a sensation, it is constantly encored. I think I have 
been more than usually successful in giving it an air. Mr. Lewis Gay- 
lord Clark says it is a perfect gem, and wishes to publish it in the Knick- 
erbocker. I told him I was not at liberty to use your name with it, but 
tliat 1 would furnish him with a copy. The other one I have sot begins 
♦ I know not if thou'rt beautiful, ' which to my thinking is a beautiful 
song, but not so effective as the other, although I have not yet sung it in 
public. 

Upon reflection I feel a little delicacy in resetting the first one, as the 
former composer may think it invidious in me to do so, but we shall see. 
I may try my hand on it if I do not publish it. 

The other one about the ' gloaming ' which you have been kind enough 
to write expressly for me, is truly beautiful, and I wish to take my happi- 
est moods and greatest pains to make it shine out. 

I know it will be pleasing to you to hear that I have been so success- 
ful thus far. I am truly delighted with the ' cup o' gude red wine, ' and 
hope to let you judge of its flavor as soon as I come to Philadelphia. " 



188 MEi».:OIR OF GEO. W. BETIIUNE, D. D. 

In November of this year f 1844) another membership was 
added to his already long list. He was elected by the His- 
torical Society of Pennsylvania, and having been invited 
soon afterward to a public dinner by the New York Histori- 
cal Society, made an extempore speech at that banquet. He 
had contemplated one of a different character ; but finding 
that the tone of the meeting was not what he had expected, 
he, with native versatility, changed his line and disap- 
pointed the Manhattan audience of the racy references to 
the original Dutch colony of New York, and the dear old 
Knickerbockers, which they had naturally looked for. The 
meeting took altogether too much of a Plymouth Eock, 
Mayflower, Pilgrim Father tone to suit New Yorkers, and 
Hendrick Hudson was cruelly ignored. The opinion gain- 
ed head that this was a New England festival, and to correct 
tliis a copy of Dr. Bethune's intended speech was requested 
for publication. 

G. W. B. TO Mrs. J. B. " Jan. 1, 1845. 

One of those many tilings wliich w-ill occur just at the moment you 
would rather they would not, prevented this being on your table this 
morning, about the same time that I received your most affectionate and 
gratifying letter. Still, though you may not hear it until the 2nd, it 
is in the morning of the 1st day of the New Year, that I call upon God 
to bless my dear mother, and thank Him for having made me her son. 
May His angel, the covenant one, be near you to sustain, comfort, and 
direct the steps of your age as He has been your guardian and guide 
from your youth up. 

As I grow older and see more of mankind, I can better appreciate the 
restraining and converting influence of religion, while I cherish more 
fondly the few whose affection and piety have rendered them dear and 
useful to me. You, my mother, have been to me more than a mother 
only, you have been my teacher, my counsellor, my considerate friend. 
I do not know whether I ever made an allusion to it before, though it is 
likely I have, the association being strong in my mind ; but there is an 



TO HIS MOTHER. 189 

expression of Cicero's, in reference to Tiberius Gracchus, that has al- 
ways seemed to me as peculiarly applicable to myself, and true of me 
in a far liigher sense than of him. ' He was the oiFspring,' says Cicero, 
* not more of her womb than of her soul, and nourished by her instruc- 
tion as much as by her bosom.' I give a free translation, but the 
thought. I am persuaded that I owe you for that which makes the life I 
derived from you, under God, most valuable, and there is not a thouglit 
that I give to you, but makes me more grateful, and you more dear. 

This is the honest outpouring of my heart, dear mother, an ex- 
pression, which you must allow me, once a year, of my true feelings. 
Would that I were near you, with the opportunity to show by acts, what 
now only words must show, how much I consider my life to belong to 
yon, and how much my happiness is wrapped up in yours. 

I am not yet well, having a very severe cold, which I cannot succeed 
in shaking off ; but have been busy at tliis busy season. Our Christmas 
passed off very well, the children singing my hymn and tune. We 
had a small, but very gratifying addition to our communion on Sunday, 
four on confession, and the same by letter ; few, but good people." 

G. W. B. TO Mrs. J. B. ' " Phila., March 22, 1845. 

My Dear Mother : You might have supposed that my first wish on 
the morning of my birthday, was to have written to you, as in other cir- 
cumstances it would have been my first duty; but it has rarely happened 
in all my pastoral life, that so much engrossing and exciting engagement, 
has been crowded into one day. I was, between 10 a.m., and 7 p.m., at 
three death-beds ; two of the persons, it is true, still survive, but with no 
possibility of recovery. They are dying, and have been for a week. A 
visit to another in very deep and peculiar aflSiction, added to my trials, 
so that I had not a moment to write, or if I had, not the heart. 

Yet I did not forget you, my mother ; but remembered you where I 
loved best to remember those I loved best, and loved best to be remem- 
bered. My days are fast fleeting. I feel that I am no longer young ; 
that my step is now down the hill. For several years past, death and eter- 
nity have been growing more familiar to me ; before, they were rather 
matters of faith, now they have a real, almost sensible presence. It is 
well it is so, so that our estimate of life be honest, not sickly, and our 
thought of the future hopeful, not gloomy. 

I am rejoiced that your anxiety about the Orphan Asylum is relieved. 



190 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE. D. D. 

God may have already sent liis angels (for I believe that all Provi- 
dence is in the hands of angels) to bring you comfort. I wish that I 
had more to comfort me. My communion is drawing nigh, and, as yet, I 
know of but one person who is coming forward on confession." 

With all the success that had crowned his efforts, and 
the general applause awarded him by the great and the 
good, Dr. Bethune had the modesty that graces the true 
scholar. Of his famous sermon before the Foreign Evan- 
gelical Society, he writes, ''that it does not suit him ; he 
took too much pains with it. But possibly it may read 
better than it sounded.'' His mother has no regret over 
this feature, but replies, " You always say your sermons 
are not good, I am not afraid of you now.'' But if he 
fails, it is not from any lack of due diligence on his part. 
" I am now in my study laying out work for many weeks 
to come. Work is a blessed thing for us mortals, I am 
sure that nothing, except grace, does me more good." 

We have reached the year 1845 in our track of Dr. Be- 
thune's life and sentiments ; but eighteen years still intervene 
between this point and the day of his lamented death. We 
must hasten on and shall find it convenient to dv/ell less 
particularly than before upon the periods of quiet residence 
in the same place, and pay more attention to his changes of 
life, their causes and their consequences. On the 6th Jul^^ 
1845 was pronounced the '' Discourse on the duty of a Pa- 
triot " with some allusions to the life and death of Andrew 
Jackson. This panegyric was a labor of enthusiasm ; Jack- 
son being a hero, and a hero of the right sort. Bethune was 
just the man to appreciate and praise with a will him, who, 
'• in the darkest hour of our country's history, when a narrow 
sectionalism counterfeited the color of patriotic zeal, and 
discord shook her Gorgon locks, and men shuddered as they 



ORATION AT YALE COLLEGE. 191 

saw, yawniug wide in the midst of our confederacy, a gulf, 
which threatened to demand the devotion of many a life be- 
fore it would close again, sublimely proclaimed over the 
land that doctrine sacred as the name of Washington, ' The 
Union must be preserved ! ' and the storm died away with 
impotent mutterings.'' This effort was published, and well 
received ; the same may be said in a still greater degree of 
the '' Plea for Study, '^ delivered August 19, before the liter- 
ary societies of Yale College. This plea for study is also 
a plea for the regimen which shall best fit man for study, a 
plea for exercise and fresh air, and fishing and genial society, 
and moderation in eating and drinking. The lecturer states 
facts that every one knows, that he knows are known to all ; 
but he states them that he may urge upon his hearers the 
practice in accordance with them. He instances himself, a 
man with a constitution better adapted to follow the plough, 
or to sling a sledge and yet a close student, an excessive 
student, and worst of all a night student, yet he feels no in- 
convenience from it, solely, he believes, because he follows 
a light, regular, but not whimsically abstemious diet. 

'' I am happy", writes Hon. Charles Sumner, ''that the 
master key and talisman of knowledge and scholarship is 
commended so persuasively as it has been by you. No per- 
son, whose soul is not of the lowest potter's cla}^, can read 
what you have said without confessing new impulses to 
learning and to those good habits which promote it. '' 

" I like you, Bethune," writes Dr. G-. W. Blagden, Dec. 
11. "I hope the Lord will bless you. It does me good to 
see a frank whole-hearted minister of the Gospel now-a-days. 
Sometimes I have thought that I would dare to say to you 
that, in your really generous-hearted honest use of the creat- 
ures of God, particularly the weed and the thing that forms 



11)2 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

a good alliteration with it, you might go a little too far, but 
then again, I really like your independence so much that I 
doubt whether it be best. And yet you see I have done it. 
All I want to say is remember our ' beloved brother Paul's ' 
doctrine of expediency, and love me as one who at this mo- 
ment prays God to bless you, and make you unceasingly 
useful every day and year you live. I have inflicted quite a 
letter on you, but retaliate as soon and as long as you can.'' 

Prof. Felton to G. W. B. " Cambridge, Oct. 10, 1845. 

My Dear Sir: I received a copy ofyour Yale Discourse yesterday, 
just as I was getting into the omnibus, I ran over it as well as I could 
then, but this morning I have read it carefully through, and I cannot help 
writing you immediately to say how well I ha^e been pleased by the man- 
ner and the matter of it. In particular I say a hearty amen to your views 
cf water exercise, and Political Economy. You might, in my opinion 
have substituted on page 36 ' no instances ' for ' very few.' I have known 
a great many cases of young men, and old men, who have pretended that 
they were injured in health by ' hard study,' and have been sympatliised 
with accordingly, but I never knew a single person who might not have 
done, without harming his health, a great deal more literary v/ork by the 
application of common sense and cold water. I once had a fancy of 
that sort myself, but a little reflection convinced me that it was all a 
humbug. My Greek studies taught me that bathing and gymnastics were 
nearly as essential as languages and mathematics, and I devised with 
forethought and deliberation, a system of shower-bathing and dumb- 
bells, which changed me in a few weeks from a ' vertiginous ' weak- 
ling unfit for anything, to a sturdy fellow, fitted, if need were, ' to sling a 
sledge or follow a plough. ' I reverence the dumb-bells and the shower- 
bath, and were I a Pagan some allegorical rei^resentation of these should 
soon find a place in my Pantheon. I do not quite agree with you about 
animal food. My own experience teaches me that I am better with a 
moderate allowance in the morning as well as at noon. I can work bet- 
ter through the day with such a distribution of the flesh pots. 

The system I mention I have now continued nearly ten years, and 
perhaps you remember enough of my outward man to know that I have 



LETTER OF G. S. HILLARD. 193 

not, any more than you, those lanthorn jaws, cadaverous sides, stooping 
shoulders, that narrow chest and ghostly complexion which have been 
considered indispensable requisites to the American literary character. 

Your discourse cannot fail to do good. They need such doctrine at 
Yale as much as anywhere. They are too stiff, solemn, and dyspeptic. 
A friend of mine returning thence a short time ago, asserted as of his 
positive knowledge, that it was a common custom there, to take every 
morning a strong mixture of ramrods. How can they be cheerful with 
such a habit as that ? 

Excuse this nonsense. I may urge in extenuation the authority of 
one whom you will admit to be worthy of rehance. 

' Quid vetat ridentem dicere verum ? ' 

Thanking you for your kind attention, I am Dear Sir, 
With high regard your friend, 

C. C. Felton. 
Geo. S. Hillard to G. W. B. "Boston, Oct. 13, 1845. 

Mr Dear Bethune : I have read with great pleasure your oration 
delivered at New Haven. It strikes me as one of the best things you 
have ever done ; it is vigorous, learned, original, and true. It contains 
the doctrines of the true church, upon the great subject of ' study ' that 
' vehemens et assidua animi applicatio' as Cicero so well defines it ; only 
I don't know about angling. The poor fish that you pull out of the 
water with a hook in his gullet, might well ask if the Lord had made 
him a mere medicine to restore a dyspeptic scholar, and had not given 
him a pleasant life of his own in the silver streams. If the fish were 
not alive, angling would be delectable, but after reading Wordsworth's 
' Hart-leap Well ' I pause over the rod as well as the gun, in spite of 
dear old Izaak. But your counsels and your admonitions will do the 
boys good. As your discourse was lying on my table, a friend came 
in whose hobby is political economy, and he casually opened it on pago 
21 and read your eulogium on his favorite science with sparkling eyes, 
and sat down and copied the sentence and made a memorandum of the 
discourse with warm expressions of admiration, and a purpose of sending 
for it. " 

There is a fact about this very successful address at New- 
Haven which it may be well to record for the benefit of liter- 
13 



194 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

ary institutions. The Doctor felt his reception to be very 
chilly, almost ice-cold ; there was a strange lack of interest 
in the orator of the day. He had to find his own way about 
town and when he came to the College Assembly, it presented 
one of the blackest looking audiences to be imagined. There 
was no relief in the back-ground, nothing but an array of 
sombre black coats, and these not easily to be moved from 
their quiet decorum. The President received him with a 
dignified bow, but not a word of sympathy consoled the sen- 
sitive heart of the speaker. He returned to his hotel, dis- 
couraged, and inquired of the clerk at what hour the first 
train in the morning left the city. An early hour being men- 
tioned, he said, '' Iwish to leave at thattime,'^ and speedily 
departed from the land of steady habits without having re- 
ceived the most favorable impression of Yankee hospitality. 
During one of those years he was suddenly called upon 
to proceed to Washington, in reference to his favorite cause 
of Colonization. A Sunday at the Capital was quite sure to 
make demands on the popular preacher, and he caught up a 
few manuscript sermons and put them in his carpet-bag. 
Invited to preach in two churches, he found that only one 
of these sermons pleased him, which he reserved for the 
evening. In the morning he gave a very simple and un- 
pretending discourse, on the " little child that our Lord set 
before his disciples as a pattern". The minister of this 
church, meeting him the next day, complained, saying, " I 
hear that last night you thundered and lightened in the 
Methodist church round the corner, but you did not take 
much trouble for us." The Doctor, having a modest opinion 
of his efforts, could make no defence ; but some months 
later, received, in an incidental way, a most agreeable com- 
pliment from a high quarter. A friend of his, conversing 



SPEECHES AND LECTURES. 195 

with Justice McLean, of the Supreme Court of the United 
States, said to him, " Since all the leading ministers of the 
country come here, you must have great privileges in the 
preaching line at Washington.'' "Not so much as you 
imagine, they all come with their grand discourses and 
high-flown elocution, but we have little of the simple gos- 
pel that edifies. There was, however, a man named Be- 
thune, from Philadelphia, who pleased and profited me very 
much ; he is a preacher of some distinction, but he took for 
his text, ' a little child,' and then he sought to bring all of 
us statesmen, judges and counsellors, to the position of 
little children before the Saviour; now that was a sermon 
to do a man's heart good." 

Let preachers going to Washington gather wisdom. 
Manifold engagements pressed upon him, and yet he found 
time for the labors of authorship. 

He really did dispatch a large amount of work. Besides 
the constant preparations necessary for a city pulpit, and 
care for the sick, he was engaged in extensive correspon- 
dence with home and foreign parts. There is a record of 
as many as forty-five letters Avritten on a single day. Then 
he was expected to speak on important public occasions ; 
he was President of the Pennsylvania Seamen's Friend's So- 
ciety ; a leading oflScer in the Colonization Society ; neither 
did he neglect his readings of the Greek and Latin Classics; 
he told a friend " that, in the course of the winter, he had 
tead through the plays of Euripides," which this friend 
being a ripe scholar, thought by itself a suflScient task for 
the season. Racy lectures must occasionally be produced ; 
he was a frequent contributor to Magazines and Annuals, 
yet, in addition to all, he was able to get several volumes 
through the press. The first was a book of " Sermons " ; 



196 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

" he yields to the wishes of some friends '' in this publica- 
tion. " The selection has been made out of the discourses 
preached by the author from his own pulpit, with some re- 
gard to variety, but principally, to the practical characters 
of their subjects." He adds with modesty, "The prospect 
of their being widely read, when there are so many better 
books, is small ; yet the attempt to serve the cause of our 
beloved Master is pleasant, and if he smiles upon it, it will 
be successful, not in proportion of our talent, but of his 
grace. '^ Mr. Wm. H. Prescott writes, " One does not look 
into a volume of sermons for novelties, yet you put your read- 
ers on trains of thoughts that are not opened every day. 
I have not read any thing from the pulpit for a long time 
that has pleased me so much, or which I think more calcu- 
lated to benefit the hearers.'' Perhaps a more substantial 
compliment was given by the public in its rapid sale. 
"'You will be pleased," he writes to his mother, "to hear 
that my book of sermons does so well. There must be an- 
other edition by September at farthest. My ' Fruit of the 
Spirit ' sells steadily and well. My publishers say that 
they are now sure of its being a stock book ; which means 
a book for which there will always be a good demand." 
In quick succession appears, " Early Lost, Early Saved." 
"A childless man himself," says Dr. Taylor, " it is some- 
what remarkable, that in this little volume he has left one 
of the sweetest books of consolation for bereaved parents, 
founded upon an argument for the salvation of infants, 
which is at the same time a powerful vindication of that 
grand old system of doctrinal truth, taught by the Reformed 
Churches, which, as he declared his conviction, has been so 
often foully accused of consigning departed infants to a 
miserable eternity ; but which ' affords the only satisfactory 



COMMISSIONER TO THE MINT. W} 

hope of their salvation,' which is by free and sovereign 
grace in Christ/' Then followed " The History of a Peni- 
tent ; a Guide for the Inquiring, in a Commentary on the 
One Hundred and Thirtieth Psalm." This was also the re- 
sult, first, of pulpit exposition, and then of careful prepa- 
ration for the press, and I need only add that it is admirably 
adapted to its great design." 

These substantial volumes, while they increased the rep- 
utation of the author, also yielded financial gain. He made 
more money from them than from anything he did in the 
way of book making. By way of variety, we may relate 
that he was appointed Commissioner of the U. S. Mint, 
one of three to attend the annual assay and examination 
of the afiairs of that branch of the public service ; he ac- 
cepted, and says he is " prepared not to be surprised at the 
offer of a large salary as special ambassador to the Universi- 
ty of Timbuctoo." This important Mint function he after- 
wards referred to on a great public occasion. '•' I once," 
he says, "held an ofiice under the general government, and 
I was offered another. The other I did not like, the first I 
did. It kept me five hours, and I was allowed my expenses 
as emolument, but as there was no omnibus riding in that 
direction, I did not get sixpence." On a visit to Boston, 
he quite startled the audience by a criticism on their book 
of praise. In giving out the Hymn, beginning, 

" There is a fountain filled with blood " 

he found that the last verse had been altered and read 
thus : 

"And when this feeble stammering tongue 
Lies silent in the grave, 
Then in a nobler sweeter song, 
I'll sing thy power to save." 



198 MExMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

'^ I should like to know," he sternly said, " who has had 
the presumption to alter Cowper's Hymn ; the choir will 
please sing the hymn as the poet wrote it." 

About the close of 1846, he received from President 
Polk the appointment of Chaplain, to the Military Academy 
at West Point, and there is much proof of his popularity at 
the White House. The office, although possessing many 
advantages, could not seduce him from his pastoral work. 
A letter from Littell, of the " Living Age," embodies a very 
neat compliment to Dr. Bethune, calling his letters a " brook 
by the way. I wish you would write to me at any time 
when you see any thing which you would especially like to 
see in the Living Age : I wish to put myself into magnetic 
communication with as much intellect and heart as I can, 
for the good of the public. I hope this plea may get me a 
line from you now and then." 



ART OF ANGLING. 199 



CHAPTER VIII. 

ART OF ANGLING FOREST LIFE. 

In the year 1846, tlie new edition of Izaak Walton's Com- 
plete Angler, appeared with the Instructions of Cotton, and, 
as says the preface, " with copious notes, for the most part 
original ; a bibliographical preface giving an account of 
fishing and fishing books, from the earliest antiquity to the 
time of Walton, and a notice of Cotton and his writings, to 
which he added an appendix, including illustrative ballads, 
music, papers on American fishing, and the most complete 
catalogue of books on angling ever printed." 

"For such an undertaking," writes Dr. Dunglison, ''no 
one could have been better qualified and prepared. Fond 
of the sport to enthusiasm, perfectly acquainted with his 
authors, and possessed of an admirable piscatorial library, 
diligently accumulated at considerable expense,* he brought 
to the subject an amount of familiar knowledge, and oppor- 
tunities for research, possessed b}^ few, if by any, in this 
country. The references, with rare exceptions, were veri- 
fied by his own examination, whilst for the literary annota- 
tions he held himself responsible. Many of these, espec- 
ially of a philological character, were the subjects of 
occasional playful, but delightful and profitable correspond- 

* The number of works that he had collected on fishing and kindred topics, 
composed about seven hundred volumes, and was probably the most perfect collec- 
tion of the kind ia the world. 



200 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

ence between the writer of this notice and himself, and the 
whole work affords abundant evidence of rare learning, and 
ample practical knowledge/' 

That much time and pains must have been given to the 
above work is evident, and when it was objected that this 
occupation interfered with the duties of his sacred office, 
the doctor i-eplied that he had accomplished it at odd 
seasons, while other people would have been looking out 
of their windows. The following bit of erudition is a 
specimen of the labor expended on his references. 



" New York, 3Iarch 19, 1847. 

Rev. and dear Sir : The passage of Aristotle to which you refer, 
does not occur in any part of his extant writings. Heyne alludes to 
it in his note on Iliad, xxiv, 81., but merely mentions Plutarch as his au- 
thority. If Heyne could not find it, we may be ■^'^ry sure that it has 
not come down to us. Ileyne's words are as follows : ' Melior inter- 
pretatio de cornu bovino Aristoteli deberi discimus ex Plutarcho, de 
Sollert. Animal, p. 976, ubi ejus auctoritate refellit acceptionem de 
pilis bovinis e quibus hamum contextum esse putarint alii.' 

The passage of Plutarch occurs in the 24:th chapter of the treatise de 
Sollert. Animal., (vol. iv. part ii , p. 961, seq. of Wyttenbach's edition of 
the Moralia ; and vol. x., p. 65, seq, of Reiske's edition of the entire works) 
and in it, after giving the opinion of some, that Kspa^ in the passage of 
Homer, means rpixa, and that the reference is to hair line, he quotes the 
more correct explanation of Aristotle. According to the old Stagyrite, 
a small horn (^Kepdnov) was put around the line just above the hook, to 
prevent the fish from biting it off. This solves the mystery. Plutarch's 

words are as follows: ' ApioTOrEA/jj 6i cpricn iir)6lv h tovtois XeyeaS-ai au<pdv i) 
nepiTTOV, dXXa rw ovri KspaTiuv wepiTi^ea^ai npo tov dyKicTpov irefti Trjv bpfiidi/, tircna 
TTpoi dWo tpxoiievoi 6:ea^L0V(xi. 

It appears to me that Heyne has made a slip in his note, and that for 
^ hamum' he ought to have written ^ funicidum,' for the Greek of Plu- 
tarch is, ^pi^lv oiovrai rrpos rag bpp.iag %p?jio-Sai ruvi TraXaiovg. This, however, 

does not affect the main point. 

With many thanks for your kind opinion of your old friend, anl for 



Walton's complete angler. 201 

your allowing me to claim some little part of the early training of one 
as eminent as yourself, 

I remain, very truly, &c,, 

Chas. Aktuon. 
Rev. Dr. Bbthune, Philadelphia." 

For the use that is made of this morsel of scholarship, see 
the Bibliograjjhical preface to the Complete Angler, p. ix. 

On the same subject Dr. Bethune wrote to Charles 
Lanman Esq., Librarian at Washington ; 

"The truth is, I am very modest as an angler, but have exerted 
myself to the utmost in the literary illustration of our father's delightful 
book. As I wrote Mr. Duyckinck, it is impossible to make a fishing- 
hook, especially an American fishing-book, of Walton. Permit me to 
say, that, though I am far from being ashamed of the gentle art, I do 
not wish to have my name formally associated with the book, as it .will 
not appear on the title page, and whatever comments are made on the 
American edition, (particularly as to my part of it) I should like them 
confined to the literary character. You will understand my reason for 
this. My library is very good, piscatorially the best in the country, 
and my notes have been accumulating for years." 

This edition of Walton is conceded in England, as well 
as in this country, to be the best one issued. 

The sport of angling was a great aid to him in getting 
through his year's work. He always had an amusement to 
turn to ; the course of his thoughts was completely changed, 
the mind relaxed, and the body restrung. We can give the 
testimony of eye-witnesses to the intense bodily and spirit- 
ual enjoyment, which the return of the fishing season 
always provided for him. We say spiritual, for who does 
not know how a pleasant book is enhanced by green fields 
and summer floods ; and our angler appears to have had 
a small library in his head. We quote the words of his 
companion, Rev. Joshua Cooke. 



202 3IEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

" Dr. Bethune was an ardent lover of Nature. 

He was not a worshipper of Nature. He had none of that regard for 
it which some of our day seem disposed to nurse up into idolatry; at 
least, into a feeling that if Nature be not divine, they know nothing 
more so. Of that religion which, to the call of a sinning man for bread 
of the soul, would offer Nature, give him a stone, our honored friend 
had not an element. 

But Nature, as the beautiful and glorious handiwork of One whom he 
loved better than Nature; and as created, preserved, multiplied into 
her manifold forms, expressly for the honor of His name, in tlie 
happiness of His creatures : Nature, as such, I have never seen more 
fervently loved, and more eagerly resorted to, than by Dr. Bethune. 
It was not as her processes are developed under human training that 
he sought her, but as she exists in the forms and sounds of the perfect 
wilderness. And he sought them there in yearly pilgrimages, far from 
the haunts of men ; associating with his enjoyment of wood and stream 
that of his favorite recreation, angling. There, his tent pitched, his 
camp-fire kindled ; his implements of recreation around liim ; and 
what was more than all to him, with genial companions, he would 
look forth on wood, and stream, and lake, with a happiness known 
only to the lover of Nature ; and which, in him, none will ever forget 
who had the happiness of seeing him there. And, as he felt deeply, so 
he would speak eloquently of the delightful calm, the unbroken repose; 
the freshness of all, as if just from the divine hand; and of the won- 
drous change in all this, from the excitements and conventionalities of 
life among men. lie did not dislike men ; he did not dislike society. 
On the contrary, he had a peculiar interest in being among those to 
whom he could listen with pleasure, and by whom he could be himself 
heard. And it was the one desire of his life to preach the gospel. 
This, also, made the concourse of men welcome to him, for he could 
discharge his office, and hope to save some. 

But, after months of duty, in its routine ; and, especially, if there 
had been trial of feeling, or controversy, he repaired to the stream and 
forest as a refuge and rest from excitement ; and as one who found in 
their quiet, gentle, changeless beauty, a balm. He has embodied this 
feeling in a few of his own beautiful lines, now lying by me. 



POEM. 203 

• Oh, for the rush of our darling stream, . 

With its strips of virgin meadow ; 
For the morning beam, and the evening gleam, 

Through the deep forest shadow ! 
For our dovelike tent, with white wings bent, 

To shield us from the weather. 
Where we make our bed, of hemlock spread. 

And sleep in peace together. 

Oh, for the pure and sinless wild, 

Far from the city's pother. 
Where the spirit mild of Nature's child. 

On the breast of his holy mother, 
In the silence sweet, may hear the beat 

Of her loving heart and tender ; 
Nor wish to change the greenwood range 

For worldly pomp and splendor ! 

Oh, for the laugh of the merry loon ! 

For the chant of the fearless thrushes 1 
Who pipe their tune to sun and moon. 

In clear and liquid gushes ! 
For the roar of floods, and the echoing woods, 

And the whisperings, above us. 
Of the twilight breeze, thro' the trembling trees — 

Like words of those that love us ! ' 

To write such lines, one must not only have looked upon such scenes, 
but have looked with the most hearty appreciation, and the most entire 
enjoyment. His feelings were so much in unison with everything 
around him, that he counted himself but as a part of the scene, or as a 
child visiting his mother. How beautifully has he expressed this in the 
second of the above stanzas ! All, who have spent nights in the wilder- 
ness, 'making their bed of hemlock spread,' will remember how, in the 
stillness so weird and solemn, one's own pulsation becomes, not only to 
fancy, but almost to conviction, the throbbing of the earth he lies on. 
And so, 



204 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

' The spirit mild of nature's child, 

On the breast of his holy mother, 

In the silence sweet, may hear the beat 

Of lier loving heart and tender.* 

His unconsciously delicate sense and discrimination were very 
apparent in his relish for line poetry. It led him not only to produce 
much himself that was fine, but still more to enjoy the productions of 
or,hers, and to love the very man for the thing he had produced. When 
he met with a piece where true poetical conception was expressed in 
becoming form and harmony, it was, with him, as when a diver finds a 
pearl. Vv^ith what enthusiasm and happy rendering, would he repeat 
such pieces as the following, from the Englishman Stoddart : 

'Oh, waken winds, waken, the waters are still ; 
And the sunhght, in silence, reclines on the hill ; 
And the angler is waiting beside the green springs, 
For the low, welcome sound of your wandering wings. 

His rod lies beside him ; his tackle's unfreed ; 
And his withe- woven pannier is flung on the mead ; 
And he looks on the lake, through its fane of green trees. 
And sighs for the curl of the soft southern breeze. 

Calm-bound is the form of the water-bird there ; 
And the spear of the rush stands erect in the air ; 
And the dragon-fly roams o'er the lily beds gay, 
Where basks the bold pike in the sun-smitten bay. 

Oh, waken, winds, waken, wherever asleep ! 

On the cloud, in the mountain, or down in the deep ! 

The angler is waiting beside the green springs 

For the low, whispering sound of your wandering wings.' 

I think I see him now, as seated under the shade of our pleasant 
woodland home, and looking out on the little lake, so in keeping with the 
above piece, he would dwell on its fine alliteration and musical flow ; 
but still more, on its exquisite pencilling of natural features. * Don't 
you see' , he would say, ' the impatience of the man as he looks at the 



LOVE OF NATURE. 205 

glare of the sun, and the mirror-like surface, and knows that it would 
he as useless to make a cast of his fly before the eagle-eyed trout, 
under these conditions, as to make it into the woods behind him. And 
tben, tlie water bird, the loon, or the diver, far out on the water ; really 
asleep, but seemingly unable to stir till wind or wave should move ; 
calm-hoiind. And the rush' ; and here his finger, graceful and flexible 
as the rush itself, would shoot upward ; ' the rush, the most pliant and 
yielding of all things, now upright as the bole of the pine, so still is the 
air. And the sun-smitten bay; the heat pouring down as a molten 
substance, and holding the helpless waters waveless as under pressure 
of a burden ! ' 

He was equally sensitive to the devotional and the sublime. We had 
spent a Sabbath evening, four of us, in one of the tents, from dusk till 
near midnight, in delightful conversation on religion, and religious ex- 
perience, when one of the party, alluding to the day, asked the doctor, 
if he remembered the fine lines of Spenser ; 

' Then 'gan I think on that which Nature said 
Of that same time when no more change shall be ; 
But stedfast rest of all things, firmly fixed 
Upon the pillours of Eternitie ; 
For all that moveth doth in change delight ; 
But thenceforth all shall rest eternally 
With Him, that is the God of Sabbaoth hight. 
Of that great Sabbaoth, God, grant me that 
Sabbath's sight.' 

The Doctor was visibly afiected. He arose, and said, ' Where did 
you find those lines ? ' 'In the opening of the unfinished Canto of the 
Eaerie Queen.' ' Beautiful, beautiful,' said he ; * it is strange I never 
met with them ! ' And he retired to his own tent, evidently filled, ear 
and heart, with the majestic numbers and sublime prayer of the poet. 

And so he would pass, to and fro, among those beautiful little lakes 
of Canada, and up and down the clear, pebbly, forest-shaded brooks of 
Maine, his recreation, his exercise, and his few chosen friends of like 
mind in these things, his companions. So deep was his regard for those 
remote and untainted homes in the wilderness, that one might almost 
feel that their regard was responsive ; and that it would hardly be fancy 



206 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

to apply to him, in death, the lines he so thrillingly applied in public to 
our great painter of Nature, Cooper : 

' Call it not vain : — they do not err. 

Who say, that when the Poet dies. 

Mute Nature mourns her worshipper, 

And celebrates his obsequies ! 

Who say, tall cliff and cavern lone 

For the departed bard make moan ; 

Through his loved groves that breezes sigh, 

And oaks, in deeper groan reply ; 

And rivers teach their rushing wave 

To murmur dirges round his grave. 

Not that, in sooth, o'er mortal urn. 

These things inanimate can mourn; 

But that the stream, the wood, the gale, 

Are vocal with the plaintive wail 

Of those, who, else forgotten long, 

Lived in the poet's faithful song, 

And, with the poet's parting breath, 

Whose memory feels a second death, 
***** 

All mourn the minstrel's harp unstrung 

Their name unknown, their praise unsung.' 
Certainly I was startled, on revisiting one of those favored spots, after 
he had left for home, by the vividness of association which made his 
presence there, hardly fanciful ; and which gave to each tree, and shrub, 
and even to the ashes of the forsaken camp-fire, the aspect of a sentient 
companion. 

But all this, with Dr. Bethune, was without the least laying aside of 
the proprieties of his calling, whether as minister or as Christian. Rude 
boatmen of the St. Lawrence, speak to this day of his Christian interest 
and benevolent action on their behalf, when visiting their vicinity ; and, 
on the extreme confines of the Canadian wilderness, men tell feelingly 
of the tenderness, the simplicity, the earnestness of his prayers. Fre- 
quently, he would arise quietly from our little circle about the fire, and 
take his way to the depths of the forest. We knew well that he had 
gone into solitude for that communion with his Saviour, without which 



DISTINGUISHED ANGLERS. 207 

no scenes woi*e lovely, and no clay was bright. The escape from social 
pressure and conventionality was, with him, no fliglit to lawlessness. 
]n the change of earllily scene, he souglit no change in his Redeemer's 
presence and fellowship. The God of Nature was the God of Kederap- 
tion ; and, a lover of Nature, he made his enjoyment of its scenes and 
pleasures, one with his service of that Lord of all, who had bought him 
with His own blood." 

We have mentioned the "plea for study," and a page 
from that vigorous discourse will put on record our minis- 
ter's feeling for angling, and his authorities for -believing 
in its hygienic efficacy. 

"A catalogue of men," he says, "illustrious in every 
department of knowledge, who have refreshed themselves 
for further useful toil by the 'gentle art,' as its admirers 
delight to call it, would be very long ; and those who would 
charge them with trifling, perhaps worse, might, with some 
modesty reconsider a censure which must include Izaak 
Walton, the pious biographer of pious men ; Dryden, Thomp- 
son, Wordsworth, and many more among the poets ; Paley, 
Wollaston, and Nowell among theologians ; Henry Mac- 
kenzie (the man of feeling), and professor Wilson the poet- 
scholar and essayist; Sir Humphrey Davy, author of 
Salmonia ; Emmerson the geometrician, Rennie the zoologist, 
Chantrey the sculptor, and a host of others, who prove 
that such a taste is not inconsistent with religion, genius, 
industry, or usefulness to mankind. It has been remarked 
that they who avail themselves of this exercise moderately, 
(for, as one says, Make not a profession of a recreation lest 
it should bring a cross wish on the same) and are temperate, 
attain generally an unusual age. Henry Jenkins lived to 
a hundred and sixty-nine years, and angled when a score 
past his century. Walton died upwards of nmety ; Nowell 
at ninety-five ; and Mackenzie at eighty-six. Such frequent 



208 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

instances of longevity among anglers, says a writer on the 
subject, cannot have been from accident or from their 
having originally stronger stamina than other mortals. 
Their pursuits by the side of running streams whose motion 
imparts increased vitality to the air, their exercise regular 
without being violent, and that composure of the mind so 
necessary to the health of the body to which this amuse- 
ment so materially contributes, must all have had an in- 
fluence uj)on their physical constitution, the effect of which 
is seen in the duration of then- lives." 

Mr. Macomber, in the following account, proves that the 
apostolic art has its sorrows as well as its joys. 

" Dr. Betliune was not one of those who understand the art of econo- 
mizing by the profession of a 'rough-and-tumble' suit of clothing, 
fitted to sucli excursions ; and, as the judicious charities of his excellent 
wife always found use for the half-worn garments of the doctor, and as 
he generally purchased the best, the natural result was, that he was a 
well-dressed man, and fine broadcloth, and plenty of it, went a fishing 
on all occasions when the wearer did. But let not one infer that the 
doctor was careful of his dress on such occasions. On the contrary, 
his black broadcloth was totally unheeded, and mud and water were 
disregarded, where trout was plenty. 

On one of these trips, while whipping a fine mountain stream in the 
wilds of Pennsylvania, he with a companion had stopped at noon to 
lunch, and, while doing so, the doctor discovered ahead, a deep pool 
overshadowed with lofty trees and almost shut out from the sun-light, 
clear quiet and unvisited, the very spot to make glad the heart of an 
angler. He, who was a light eater, (his portly person, and the general 
belief to the contrary notwithstanding,) was quickly satisfied, and 
leaving his friend to finish his lunch and ' pack up,' he began, tackle in 
hand, to approach the pool. With wary and cautious steps he made his 
way through the thick underbrush which bordered the stream, until to 
his joy he discovered a fallen tree, one end buried in the soft earth, and 
the other elevated quite high directly above the quiet pool. To * take 
to the tree,' and quietly work his way along to the elevated extremity, 



MISHAPS. 209 

was but the work of a few moments, for the portly, and now somewhat 
excited sportsman. To say truth, he had not had * good luck ' durhig 
the morning. His brass-bound joint rod, patent self-winding reel, silk- 
laid casting line, and superb ' English hackle,' had been sadly out of place 
iu fishing this narrow, swift, and brush-fringed mountain stream, and 
he had been fairly beaten at trouting, by his less skilled friend with 
plain cut pole, short linen line, and stump-grub. But here was a 
chance, a glorious chance, to show his friend the beauties of the science 
of angling — the doctor had already commenced his revision of the 
works of Izaak "Walton, — and he challenged the attention of his com- 
panion to a beautiful ' cast ' over that broad, silent pool. The tree on 
which the doctor stood, although large, and covered with bark and moss, 
having long been prostrate in its cozy bed, was rotten to its very core, 
and, just as he straightened himself for his 'beautiful cast,' it broke 
square olf behind him, and doctor, broadcloth, and fishing tackle, fell 
ten feet into the pool, up to his neck in the ' still water,' now foaming 
with twenty stone weight of clerical humanity. The crash of the log 
and the souse of the doctor, brought the startled friend to his assist- 
ance, with the exclamation, * Are you hurt ? ' ' No,' replied the im- 
mersed doctor, coolly shaking the water from his dripping locks, ' but 
I 've frightened every fish out of this creek I ' " 

On one occasion, while fishing in lake Champlain, the 
Doctor fell from a boat, and a change of apparel became 
necessary. Nothing could be found for the emergency but 
an English dragoon's scarlet jacket. When the steamer 
passed, those who could recognize his lineaments would 
have seen his dignified episcopacy ensconced in a glittering 
garment better fitted for the Pope of Rome than the staid 
habits of a Protestant minister. Here is another story not 
altogether destitute of point : 

'♦ In the month of August, 1849, the doctor had determined to give 
himself a little relaxation from his clerical duties, and in company with 
his friend L., an excellent young man, and member of his church, they 
set their faces towards the mountains of Pennsylvania, to have a bit of 
angling. Arriving at H. they found that Mr. J.I., a resident of H., who 
14 



210 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUXE, D. D. 

had agreed to accompany them, had not received the Doctor's note 
announcing their coming, and had left for New York. 

Not wiUing to lose the fine weather, they procured a conveyance, and 
although strangers to the roads and streams, found themselves at night, 
after a fatiguing day's ride, at the quiet tavern of Elder S., situated in 
a romantic gorge of one of the coal mountains of Pennsylvania. The 
Elder, an old acquaintance of Mr. M.'s, but entirely unknown to the 
Doctor and his friend, was unremitting in his attentions to his guests, 
and their creature comforts ; and as they had explained their disappoint- 
ment in not meeting Mr. M., who was to have been their guide, he 
offered to furnish a vehicle and accompany them the next day to the 
trout stream, up the mountain. But the good Elder, once a fast man 
himself, had long ago abandoned not only ' poker ' and ' brag,' but also 
the * rifle ' and the ' rod,' and his knowledge of the whereabouts of the 
best trout holes, was extremely limited. He dragged his guests up 
steep mountains and down deep vales ; sometimes Ms grey would get 
fairly stuck in a mud hole ; and to extricate the rickety * carryall ' from 
the mire, all hands must alight and, up to their knees in water, pull the 
old horse and wagon out on to dry land. But Dr. Bethune, whose good 
humor and patience never deserted him, was always ready with his 
broad shoulder to lift away, and the conveyance was soon under weigh 
again. But they caught more ducks than trout, and late at night 
brought home more mud than fish. It was one of Dr. Bethune's 
peculiarities to travel about on these excursions incog when he could do 
so, and as his friend L. had, from the time of their arrival, only desig- 
nated him as the * Doctor,' Elder S. had naturally come to the conclusion 
that he was some jolly medical man from Philadelphia, but had not the 
face fairly to ask his name. He was however delighted with him as a 
companion, quickly abbreviated the ' Doctor ' into ' Doc.,' and, often 
slapping him on the back, would exclaim, ' That 's it Doc, give us 
another lift.' 

When the labours and disappointments of day had ended, and clean 
water and a good supper (for Mrs. S. was famous for her cookery) had 
set all to rights again, the old Elder felt bound to express to his guests 
his satisfaction on one point. ' Now,' said he, ' gentlemen, we've had a 
hard time to-day, but through all the upsetting, sticking in the mud- 
holes, losing our way, and catching no fish, I am much gratified to say, 
I haven't heard either of you swear a single word. We have a prayer- 
meeting to-night, can't one of you do the singing ? ' " 



THE STUDY POliTRAIT. 211 

As we write, an excellent likeness of Dr. Bethune looks 
down npon us from the wall ; it is a photograph, taken a few 
years before his death, under the following circumstances. 
He was arranging to start for one of his vacations, and in 
expectation of its relief and pleasure, was in one of his 
happiest moods, when Dr. Francis Vinton, of New York, 
entered his study. The Doctor has been kind enough to re- 
late the incident : 

" Trinity Church, New York, September 20, 1867. 

My Dear Dr. Van Nest : One pleasant morning in the autnmn of 
1853, I was ushered upstairs to Dr. Bethune's Library Study. In re- 
sponse to my knock at the door, I heard his voice, rather bluffly, bid- 
ding the intruder to ' Come in.' 

On opening the door, the scene, pictured in the photograph, to wliich 
you allude in your letter, presented itself to my eyes. 

I stood still, wliile the Doctor, with pen in hand, and surrounded with 
his folios, looked up, with an expression, first of annoyance, but melting 
into a sweet smile, wherewith he welcomed me. 

*A boon, a boon, my lord,' said I, jocosely. 

'Come in, come in, take a chair ; I am delighted to see you,' he re- 
plied. 

'A boon,' I repeated. ' First grant my request.' 

* Granted, granted. What is it ? ' 

' Let us have your photograph for the club, just as I see you now.' 

And then he broke out into his cheering laugh at the singular petition, 
a laugh that was so hearty, so contagious, that we both indulged in it. 

After some coquetting with his reluctance to appear in his study cos- 
tume, and the surroundings of books, and creel, and fishing rods, he fell 
back on his rash promise and consented ; provided i\\aX the artist should 
destroy the negative after printing enough of the photographs to dis- 
tribute among the club, and a few other intimates. 

The photograph of ' Dr. Bethune in his Study,' had this origin ; and 
if the story shall enrich your memoirs, it will gratify me to be associated 
in its pages, with that noble man. * We shall ne'er look upon Ms like 
again.' Yours faithfully, 

Francis Vinton." 



212 MJEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

There he sits in his habit as he lived, the learned-looking 
cap, gold spectacles, and easy morning gown, the ponder- 
ous authority he is in the act of citing on the table before 
him, the others whose turn is to come, piled up on the floor ; 
" his orthodox pipe,^' leans against the table, the im? 
plements of his well-beloved sport adorn the walls, and 
the man's very look, at once humorous and serene, greets 
us as we turn towards it. We owe many a fervid page, 
and many a burst of eloquence, which there was, alas, no 
short-hand writer to record, to that same creel and rod, 
for they kept his heart young and his body manageable. 

The Piseco Trout Club was the name given to a confra- 
ternity of gentlemen, whose annual habit it was to repair 
to the north of New York, with the full intention of catch- 
ing and killing as many trout as they could. Their meet- 
ings were genial and jovial ; a " Report '^ was made of the 
devastation they had caused each year, and it is fair to con- 
clude that much provision was consumed. Without allow- 
ing ourselves to be stupefied with amazement at the figures 
which represent their success, we may say that the Secre- 
tary of this Society was Mr. Alfred Brooks ; the Chaplain, 
Dr. Bethune ; the President, Mr. Henry Vail, of Troy ; and 
the other individuals of which it was composed exercised 
functions either private or oflScial, according to posts they 
occupied, or duties they had to perform. 

The ^' Reports ^' are before us, very whimsical and non- 
sensical ; just such stuff as these noble " boys at play " 
might be expected to have got ofi*, at a time when anything 
serious would have been out of place. The President has 
a song improvised in his honor by the Chaplain, of which 
a verse may suffice as specimen. 



A MISSION FOUNDED. 213 

"And when the clock beneath our belts proclaims the hour to dine, 
And we to seek the ' Tree Tops shade,' our busy rods resign, 
We love above our smoking board to see his bright face shine, 
And hear him smack his lips and say, * how very, very fine,' 
Just like the honored President of our Piseco Club." 

It was sung to the tune of " The Fine Old English 
Gentleman.'' 

These fishing excursions resulted in something besides 
pleasure. " Come ye after me," said our Saviour to certain 
who were casting their nets, "and I will make ye to 
become fishers of men." And accordingly the church of 
the Thousand Islands rose and flourished, and did much 
good, because a man whose eyes were always open for a 
chance of doing good, went into the neighborhood for his 
amusement. 

We gratefully make use of the statement of the Rev. 
Anson Dubois, D. D., upon this matter, and acknowledge 
our inability to improve upon it : 

*' You are aware that Dr. Bethune originated a Mission at Alexan- 
dria Bay, in the St. Lawrence River. He used to call it his pet child of 
the Thousand Islands. He was one day trolling for black bass among 
these beautiful Islands, when he said to his oarsman, ' Tommy, where 
do you go to church ? ' 'No where,' said he, ' no church to go to.' 
' But do none of these people go to church ? ' ' No, we used to have 
Methodist preaching sometimes at the Bay, but they seem to have given 
us up of late years.' 

This excited the Doctors sympathy. He had it published in the dis- 
trict school and among the neighbors, that he would preach at the school- 
house the next Sabbath, and form a Sabbath school. It was a new 
thing, and quite a wonder. The people turned out largely. After the 
sermon to the adults, the Doctor gathered the children to the front seats, 
and held a Sabbath school, greatly interesting them with his Scripture 
stories and remarks. ' Now,' said he, ' my friends, we must have a Sun- 
day school here. Who will superintend it? ' 



214 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

No one volunteered. He then cast Ms eyes around the audience in 
that small but crowded house. It rested, after a moment, on the intelli- 
gent and energetic countenance of a middle-aged lady. ' Madam,' said 
the Doctor, ' will you take charge of this school ? ' 

The woman tried to excuse herself, but finally consented, and for the 
whole season managed the school with great success, although she 
made no profession of religion, and was the wife of a tavern-keeper, an 
irreligious man. 

The Doctor soon after sent a ten-dollar library, and music books to 
the school ; and a friend, an enthusiastic old gentleman, in acknowledging 
their receipt and use, said, ' If Dr. Bethune could hear these little chil- 
dren singing out of their new books, he would think it was the angels in 
heaven.' The next season Dr. Bethune sent a missionary, Rev. J. A. 
Davenport, to this field, who maintained preaching and Sabbath schools, 
sometimes to the number of ten, upon the Islands and adjacent shores, 
and was supported for three years by funds, contributed by the Doctor 
and his personal friends. That mission, begun in 1846, is still main- 
tained, and has been productive of very great good. 

The Doctor's intercourse with the less cultivated people in the remote 
sections of the country where he so loved to resort during his summer 
vacations, was always easy and free, though never approaching vulgar- 
ity. He loved especially to devote his Sabbaths to their religious profit, 
making it a matter of conscience to preach at least once, and frequently 
oftener. He used to tell some good anecdotes of their appreciation of 
his services. I will give you one as a specimen. He was at one time 
among one of the roughest sections of the lumber regions skirting Lake 
Champlain. The little log hut in which he preached was crammed, and 
many hardy backwoodsmen sat about the door in the shade. He discoursed 
earnestly to attentive hearers. After meeting broke up, some little con- 
sultation was had among the men, and one of them came up with the Doc- 
tor on his way to his tent. Said he, very respectfully, ' Preacher, we 
have made up our minds that we want you to stay here and preach for 
us.' 'Well, but,' said the Doctor, 'can you support me here? How 
much can you raise?' His friend was not discouraged. They liad 
thought of that too. ' Yes Sir,' said he, ' we have made up our minds 
to give you one hundred dollars a year, and we'll build you anew church.' 
* What ! ' said a bystander who had not been in the council, ' will you 



LETTER TO MR. DUBOIS. 215 

build a church of logs ? ' * Build a church of logs ! No sir, we'll build 
a church of sawed stuff' ! The Doctor had to take the thing seriously, 
and show them why he could not come and live there. He sometimes 
laughed heartily over his call of a hundred dollars' salary, and a new 
church of sawed stuff, though he declared he never felt himself more 
highly complimented in his life." 

Mr. Dubois was pastor of the Thousand Islands' Church 
for some time after Mr. Davenport quitted it, and perhaps 
there is no better place than the present to insert a letter 
written by Doctor Bethune to Mr. Dubois, embodying cer- 
tain important opinions, although the date is several years 
later. 

''April 12, 1852. 

You ask my advice and shall have it in all friendship. As a general 
Tule no man ought to change his settlement, I mean his first settlement, 
for several years. That settlement is his apprenticeship to the pastoral 
office, and he cannot fairly learn its lessons in less time. 

A minister's character is made in his first charge. If he be faithful 
and successful there, he establishes a reputation which will follow him 
through life, because it will be reputation among his clerical brethren, 
who are, after all, the best judges. The school you are in is a hard, but 
a good school. You have time for thought. You meet with a variety 
of human nature. Your work does not overtask your brain, and every 
hour is a preparation for a more important sphere. Two or three years 
longer there will do you much good, and there is scarcely any position, 
except those of the first class, which will give you greater prominence. 
By declining preferment now you do not lose it but only postpone it, for 
Providence has other places in store than thtit which you refer to. 

Another general rule which should be very rarely broken tlirough, is 
not to preach as a candidate. Young licentiates, or unsettled ministers, 
perhaps must,— but very rarely should a minister who has a pulpit, put 
himself forward, or be brought forward, as a solicitor for another. It 
always lowers him in the sight of his own people, and in that of the peo- 
ple he seeks. The seeker is always underrated. Let yourself be sought, 
which you will be if you are faithful, and God blesses you in the place 



216 MEMOIR or GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

his Providence assigns you. Do not try to be your own Providence, bu^ 
do your duty and trust the providence of God. Candidating has been 
the curse of our churches, and has belittled our ministry. This is not 
the popular doctrine, but it is the true one. I could point you to several 
of our best men who have destroyed their hopes of advancement by seek- 
ing it. 

These are general rules — but of course there are exceptions, yours 
may be one — and deeply interested as I am for the Islands, I would not 
stand in the way of your usefulness or comfort. I am impartial in the 
counsel given above. In any case you may rely on me, as far as you 
may think it worth your while, as your constant and ready friend, 

Geokge W. Bbthune." 

In this Church of the Thousand Islands a beautiful mural 
tablet has been erected by the Messrs. Stewart of Brooklyn, 
to the memory of Dr. Bethune. 

There is a touch of sentiment in the following refusal : 

" I cannot meet you at Lake George. The friend* who was always 
my companion there, the man whom I loved best and as whom I can 
never love man again, is sleeping in sacred rest till the illustrious morn- 
ing breaks. He is associated with every nook and island of Lake George, 
and I can fish there no more." 

Several allusions have been made to friends ; those who 
were his most frequent companions in these excursions, be- 
sides the Rev. Mr. Cooke of Lewiston, were Mr. George 
Trott and the Rev. Dr. J. Wheaton Smith of Philadelphia. 
Mr. Trott states that they were under canvas for two weeks 
in the spring and autumn, and estimates that the time lie 
spent with Dr. Bethune in the woods, would cover the space 
of an entire year. He relates a meeting with an old clergy- 
man in Canada, who was greatly astonished to find the pas- 
tor in such trivial employ. " What !'^ he said " is this the 

* Probably his brother-in-law, Mr. John Williama. 



PREACill^G IN THE AVOODS. 217 

great Dr. Betliune, and can it be that he has come all this 
distance to amuse himself with fishing- ?'' Afterwards he 
heard him preach to the backwoodsmen, and at once de- 
clared that Dr. Bethune had acquired more influence over 
these people in that brief visit than he had gained in years. 
A lumber merchant said, he would be glad to pay all the 
expenses of Dr. B. and friend, simply for the benefit that re- 
sulted to his working people; and only last summer, Mr. 
Trott met with a blessed result of those preachings. A 
man in Maine told him that his first religious impressions 
had been produced by Dr. Bethune 's sermon. 

Preaching to these plain people, his pulpit either a stump 
of a tree, or a rock, was often attended with ludicrous scenes. 
One Sunday in Maine, just as he concluded a solemn service, 
before the people had risen, the quietness was disturbed by 
a slirili voice, " Has any of the congregation found a new 
jack-knife? If they have, I've lost one, and they'll please 
hand it over." 

During these excursions, the diet was of the simplest 
character ; alcoholic drinks, and even wine, were excluded 
from the stores. It may be imagined that in these remote 
regions, the forests of Maine and the wilder British Prov- 
inces, the visit of such a distinguished stranger would be a 
great event ; and he had a servant, named Ernest, who was 
frequently sent forvv^ard to make arrangements for the party, 
and he would amuse himself by exciting public expectation 
to the highest point. The entree of the Doctor and his '' fi- 
dus Achates " the Major, was like that of lords of the realm, 
but they would find its consequence in the greatly increas- 
ed bills that ensued. 

Dr. Bethune himself has given a touching incident of his 
mission work in the woods, narrated in an annual for Mr. 
L. G. Clarke. 



218 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

It occurred in Northern New York, when in company 
with the Piseco Club* on the romantic banks of those waters 
which had given them the poetic appellation; and where they 
had erected a simple lodge. The article is headed *' Piseco." 

" The Sabbath there had peculiar charms. No church-going bell rang 
through the woods, no decorated temple lifted its spire, but the hush of 
divine rest was upon all around. A sense of the Holy One rested on the 
spirit, the birds sung more sweetly, the dews of the morning shimmered 
more brightly, and the sounds of the forest were like the voice of Psalms. 
As the day went on toward noon, the inhabitants, — whose dwellings 
were scauered for miles around, some down the rocky paths, others in 
boats on the lake, — singly or in companies, men, women, and little ones, 
might be seen drawing near to the lodge, where, when all assembled, 
they formed a respectful and willing congregation of perhaps fifty wor- 
shippers, and listened to the words of the preacher, who sought to lead 
them by the Gospel of the Cross through nature up to the God of grace. 
Such opportunities were rare for them ; never, indeed, was a sermon 
heard there, except on these occasions. The devout (for God the Sa- 
viour had a ' few names' among them) received the word with ' glad- 
ness'; all were attentive, and their visitors found, when joining v.ith 
them in the primitive service, a religious power seldom felt in more 
ceremonious homage. 

On one of those sacred days, there came among the rest, two young, 
graceful women, whose air and dress marked them as of a superior 
cultivation. Their modest voices enriched the trembling psalmody, and 
their countenances showed strong sympathies with the preacher's utter- 
ances. At the close of t'no service, they made, through one of their 
neighbors, a request that the minister would pay a visit to tlieir mother, 
who had been a long time ill, and was near death. A promise was 
readily given that he would do so the same day ; but their home lay four 
miles distant, and a sudden storm forbade the attempt. The Monday 
morning shone brightly, though a heavy cloud at the west suggested 
precautions against a thunder shower. The friends parted from the 
landing, each bent on his purpose ; but the chaplain's prow was turned 
on Ms mission of comfort to the sick. Had any prim amateurs of eccle- 

♦This club was a different institution from the friends mentioned just previously. 



INTERESTING STORY. 219 

siastical conventionalities, seen him with his broad-brimmed hat, neces- 
sary for shelter from the sun, a green veil thrown around it as defence 
from the mosquitoes near the shores, his heavy water-boots, and his 
whole garb chosen for aquatic exigencies, (for like Peter, he had girt 
his fisher's coat about him) they would hardly have recognized his 
errand. But the associations of the scene with the man of Nazareth 
and the Apostles by the Sea of Galilee, Avere in his soul, carrying him 
back to the primitive Christianity, and lifting him above the forms with 
which men have overlaid its simplicity. The boat flew over the placid 
waters in which lay mirrored the whole amphitheatre of the mountain 
shores, green as an emerald. The wooded point hid the lodge on the 
one side, a swelling island the hamlets on the other. No trace of man 
was visible. The carol of birds came off from the land, now and then 
the exulting merriment of a loon rang out of the distance, and soon a 
soft, southern breeze redolent of the spicy hemlock and cedar, rippled 
the surface. The Sabbatli had transcended its ordinary hours, and shed 
its sweet blessing on the following day. His rods lay idly over the stern 
as the cliaplain thought of the duty before him and asked counsel of the 
Master, who, ' Himself bare our sicknesses and carried our sorrows.' 
He remembered the disciples, who said, 'Lord, he whom thou lovcst is 
sick;' and the gracious ansAver, 'This sickness is not unto death, but 
for the glory of God, that the Son of Man might be glorified tliereby.' 
It is not the imagination merely that gives such power to tlie living 
oracles, when they come to us where the testimony of nature unites with 
the inspiration. It is the blessing of Jesus, who souglit the wilderness, 
the shore and the mountain side to gain strength from communion with 
his Father. It was in such solitudes that our example and forerunner 
found courage for his trial and suffering. Eeligion is eminently social, 
but its seat is the heart of the individual believer, and whatever be the 
advantage of Christian fellowship, the flame must be fed in private, 
personal converse witiithe Father cf our Spirits. He who has not been 
r.lonc with God, can seldom find him in the crov.'dcd church. 

A brief hour, briefer for these meditations, brought the keel of the 
boat to a gravelly nook where the mouth of the inlet found a little 
harbor. There, awaiting the chaplain's arrival, stood a tail, upright, 
man, past the prime of life, who, with a style of courtesy evidently 
foreign, bnrcd his gray head, and greeted his visitor by name of a 
friend. 



220 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUKE, D. D. 

♦ You have kindly come, sir, to see my poor wife, I thank you for it. 
She is now expecting you, for we heard the sound of your oars as you 
turned the island.' 

A rough stone house, built by a speculator of former days, stood on a 
knoll a little \vay from the stream, and the garden around it was 
trimmed with some taste. As they entered, the otvuer said, ' Welcome 
to the mountain dwelling of an old soldier. He (pointing to an engraved 
portrait of Blucher wreathed with laurel leaves) was my general, whose 
praise I once received as I lay wounded on the field of battle. I am a 
Prussian, sir, and came to this country, when my fatherland had no 
more use for my sword. I have not been successful in my peaceful life, 
and misfortune after misfortune drove me here, hoping to gather about 
us a few of my countrymen, and make a German home ; but in that I 
Avas disappointed. The severe winters chilled their resolution, and now 
we are by ourselves. The few neighbors about us are not of cur class, 
but they are kind and honest, and the world has nothing to tempt me 
back to it. I have one brave son at sea. My two daugliters you saw 
yesterday. We had another, but she sleeps yonder.' 

He turned abruptly from the room. The chaplain, left to himself 
observed about the apartment various articles of refinement and faded 
luxury, telling tlie story of more prosperous days. The subsequent 
acquaintance with the family confirmed his first impressions. Though 
not of high rank, they were educated, of gentle manners, and though for 
years remote from cultivated society, preserved the amenities which now 
distinguished them. Only the father seemed to have suflfered from 
want of occupation and, not unlikely, from habits formed in camp, habits 
doubly dangerous in seclusion. 

At a signal from another room, one of the daughters led the chaplain 
to the bedside of the sufiercr. The father sat with his face averted, 
near an open window, through which came the laughing prattle of a 
child, and a half idiot serving-woman looked in wonderingly across the 
threshhold of an outer kitchen. The daughters, having raised tlieir 
mother's head on a higher pillow, and affectionately smoothed her thin, 
gray hair under the snow-Avhite cap, withdrew to the other side of tlie 
bed. The chaplain placed his broad hat, with its green veil, on the little 
table, and sat silent for a while, not knowing how to begin, since, as yet, 
nothing had given him a clue to the woman's state of mind. She lay 
still and stone-like; her eyes were dry, with little 'speculation' in 



THE DYIN(J CIiniSTIAX. 221 

them; her lips moved, but uttered no sound, and lier hand feebly 
stretched out, was cold and stiff. Her whole frame was worn to 
extreme thinness, and the color of her skin told tiiat the seat of her 
disease was the liver. 

At length the chaplain, peeing that her soul was near its dread 
passage into the eternal future, said: 'I am sorry my friend, to find 
you so very ill. You are soon to die ! ' 

' Yes.' 

* It is a fearful thing; are you not afraid? ' 
' No.' 

' But to go into the presence of God, our Judge, is a most solemn 
change.' 
' Yes.' 

* And are you not afraid ? ' 
♦No.' 

The preacher was confounded; the short answers, almost cold, 
without emotion, the glazed eye, the rigid countenance, caused him to 
doubt whether he had to contend with ignorance or insensibility. 
Anxious to rouse some feeling, if possible to startle into some attention, 
as a physician applies the probe, he pushed severe declarations of 
certain judgment and the danger of impenitence, reminded her that 
C hrist, the Saviour of the believing, will be the Avenger of Sin, and 
that * there is no work nor device in the grave, and as the tree falls so it 
must lie.' The tearless eye unwinkingly gazed on him, and no shrink- 
ing followed his keen surgery. 

' Madam, you are going before God, and do you not fear? ' 

A faint smile stole struggling through her thin features, and a light, 
like a star twinkling under a deep shadow, was seen far within her eye, 
and, pointing witli her fmger upward, slie said, in a firm, low tone, 
' Though he slay me, yet will I trust in Ilim.' 

The chaplain bowed his head on the pillow and Avept thanks. Here 
was no ignorant or callous soul, but a child of God, whose perfect love 
had cast out fear. ' Yes, Christian soul, you are not afraid of evil 
tidings ; your heart is fixed, trusting in Ilim who went this way before 
you. Fear no evil ; His rod and His staff, they will comfort you.' 

* Amen ! blessed be His name,' replied the dying woman. ' It is 
true. I know in whom I have believed, and that He is able to keep 



222 MEMOIR OF gp:o. w. bstiiune, d. d. 

what I have committed to Kim. Because He hath been my help, 
therefore under his wings do I rejoice ! ' 

It seemed now as if the fountain of her speech was unsealed, and, 
though no moisture was in her eyes, and the few drops which started out 
on her forehead were cold and clammy, and the worn lineaments had 
lost the power to smile, and she lay still as marble, yet, with a voice 
clear and unfaltering, she went on to testify her faith in Christ, and of 
the peace that filled her soul. A strength denied to her body came from 
within. 

' Oh, sir, I thank you for coming. I thank God for sending you to 
me, like the angel to Hagar in the wilderness ; I prayed for it. It is 
four long years since I heard the voice of a Christian minister ; and all 
that time I prayed for one to hold the water of life to my lips once 
more. Now I know that lie has heard me, blessed be His name ! ' 

The preacher interrupted her to say, that she had not been left alone 
by her God, who needed not man's lips to comfort his people. 

'Alone! no, never alone! I have seen -Stm in his mighty works. I 
have heard Him in the stoims of winter, and in the summer winds. I 
had my Bible, His own holy word. His spirit has been with me. But 
I thank Him for the voice of His commissioned servant, whose duty it is 
to comfort his people.' 

The readers of this imperfect sketch can have little idea of the elo- 
quence, almost supernatural, pervaded by Scriptural language and im- 
agery, with wliich she spoke. It was the soul triumphing over the faint- 
ing flesh ; truth in its own energy, unaided by human expressions ; a 
voice of the dead, not sepulchral, but of one near the gate of heaven. 

The chaplain knelt beside the bed, and all the rest knelt with him ; 
but there were more thanks than petitions in liis prayer. The clouds 
that hung about the borders of eternity, were so bright with the glory 
beyond, that sorrow and pain were forgotten, as he gave utterance to the 
dying woman's memories and hopes, the memories of grace, and the 
hopes of immortality that met together in her faithful heart. Nor need 
I add, that his own gratitude was strong to the Good Shepherd who had 
sent him to find this sheep among the mountains, not lost nor forgotten, 
but longing for a token of her Saviours care. 

When he rose from his knees, she thanked him again, but with more 



BAPTISM IX THE V/ILDERNESS. 223 

risible emotion than before, and said : ' Sir, I doubt not God directed 
you here, and there is one favor more I h;ive asked of Him, and now 
aslc through you. Three years ago rny eldest daughter died in my arms, 
assured of rest, but leaving behind lier a babe not two weeks old. 
Mother, she said, just as she was dying, I leave my child with you, to 
bring her to me in heaven. You will do it for Christ's sake, and mine, 
and hers, mother. And mother. He has told us to give little cldldren to 
Him in baptism. Dear mother, promise that my child shall be baptised. 
I promised, and her spirit departed. Ever since, I have been praying 
and waiting for some minister to find his way to us, but in vain. More 
than once I heard of some who had come as far as Lake Pleasant, but 
none reached Piseco, and I almost feared that I should die and not be 
able to tell my child in Heaven that the blessed water had been on her 
baby's face. Yet, even in this, God has been good to me. You will 
baptize my little one ? How gladly the chaplain assented, may be easily 
imagined. The cliild was called in from her play on the grass-plat, her 
rosy, wondering face was gently washed, and her light brown hair parted 
on her forehead, and she stood with her bare, white feet, on a lov/ bench 
by her grandmother's pillow. The grandfather filled an antique silver 
bowl with water, freshly dipped from a spring near the river. An old 
brass-clasped folio of Luther's Bible was laid open at the family record, 
beside the water, the chaplain's broad hat on the other side ; he thought 
not, and none thought, of his coarse grey coat, or his heavy boots : he 
was full of his sacred office, and the presence of the Invisible wa.s upon 
him. The feeble woman, strengthened by love and foith, raised herself 
higher on the bed, and put her wasted arm over the plump shoulders of 
the fair, blue-eyed child. The old man and his daughters, and her dull- 
witted servant at the kitchen door, reverently standing, sobbed aloud; 
and amidst the tears of all, except her whose source of tears was dried 
up for ever, the chaplain recited the touching prayer of the Reformed 
Churches before the baptism of infants, and with the name of the de- 
parted mother breathed over her orphan, in the name of the Father, 
and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, she was dedicated to God by 
water, sprinkled three times on her sweet grave face. The grandfather 
handed a pen to the chaplain, but it was lightly pressed to trace the in- 
scription, for the page was wet with the big drops that fell from tlie old 
man's eyes. 



224 MEMOIR or GEO. V/. BETIIUNE, D. D. 

Many moments elapsed before the thanksgiving could be uttered, and 
then the happy saint joyfully exclaimed : 

* Bless you, sir ! I bless God that he has granted me tliis peace before 
I die. Now I am ready to go to my child in Heaven.' 

' My dear madam,' answered the preacher, 'it is, indeed, a blessed or- 
dinance ; but the child of prayers for two generations would not have 
missed the promise because of an impossibility on your part.' 

' No, no ! The spirit is better than the form. She had the promise ; 
I knew that she was in the covenant, but I wanted her in the fold.' 

The chaplain entered his boat. Never did lake and mountain and 
green shore look so beautiful, for they seemed all bathed in holy light ; 
and that noon, when, with his friends reclining on the sward, he told the 
story of the baptism in the wilderness, their moistened eyes expressed 
their sympathy with his joy. 

Heaven opened for the grandmother a few days afterwards. The next 
year her Saviour took uj) her cliild's child in his arms, and the three 
were together among the angels. The grandfather lived but a short 
time. One of the daughters having married a farm.er, moved witli her 
sister, down into the open country, where she also died in her young 
beauty. Of the two other m^embers of the family, I have heard nothing 
since. 

The old stone house still stands near the rushing inlet, but the storms 
beat through its broken windows. Eank weeds have overrun the gar- 
den, and brambles hide the spring near the kitchen door. Yet the 
path from the landing-place can be followed ; and should any of my 
readers ever visit Piseco, now more accessible, but charming as ever, 
they can easily recognize the scene of my story. It is ever fresh and 
hallowed in my memory ; for there I learned, by precious experience, 
that the good God never forgets those who trust in Him ; and still, go 
where we will, we may carry this blessing with us to some heart thirsting 
for His word." 

What a commentary on his own words in the preface to 
Walton and Cotton's Angler : 

' I trust that I have drunk enough of the old angler's spirit not to let 
such pastime break in upon better tilings ; but, on the other hand, I 



ADVICE TO YOUNG ANGLEKS. 225 

have worked the harder from thankfulness to Him who tauglit the brook 
to wind with musical gurglings, as it rolls on to the great sea." 

He practised on the advice given to the young men of 
Yale College should they go a fishing : 

" Nor should the angler forget the best of books in his pocket, and a 

few well-chosen jewels of truth to give away as he enjoys the simple fare 

of some upland cottage, or chats with the secluded inmates during 

the soft twihght, before he asks a blessing upon the household for the 

night." 

15 



226 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 



CHAPTER IX. 

LITERARY AND PUBLIC LABORS. 

There is little to note in Dr. Bethune's life at this time 
beyond the literary works which proceeded from his inces- 
sant pen. In 1848, the " British Female Poets, Avith Bio- 
graphical and Critical Notices/' was edited by him, " and the 
specimens which he gives are well chosen, the biographical 
sketches ably written, and the characteristics of each writer 
skilfully discriminated. '^ It was also expected that he 
would follow this with the '' Female Poets of America," but 
that task was transferred to a young friend,"^' in whose judg- 
ment and taste he had great confidence. A little earlier, 
Lindsay and Blakiston issued a volume of his poetry, entitled 
"Lays of Love and Faith, with other Fugitive Poems.'' Dr. 
Bethune did not give himself to making poetry, it was merely 
an incident to his more severe labors with which he occupied 
his leisure hours. " Many of these lays were tributes of 
affection to those most dear to their author, whilst others 
were devotional, epigrammatic, patriotic and miscellaneous ; 
and all exhibit a rich and vivid imagination, much delicacy 
of sentiment and expression, and melod}'- of versification.'' 
Mr. William H. Prescott writes, ''I asked my wife as she 
read them to me (which is my way of reading) to mark 
those we liked the best ; but I soon found they were nearly 
all to be marked, that is, the original pieces ; They are 
warmed by a genuine feeling, and often have a vein of 

* Misa Caroline May. 



CIIK13TMAS HYMN. 0^7 

tender melancholy running- tlirougli them, which looks for 
repose to a better world than this ; you are certainly the 
poet of the heart as well as of the head. One would hardly 
have looked for this vein, in one of so cheerful, not to say 
comical, turn in conversation. Arc the man and the author 
of different natures ? '' 

It was the custom of Dr. Bethune to prepare hymns for 
bis Sunday school children on their festal days, and we 
present the following, as a happy specimen : 

CHRISTMAS HYMN. 

"Joy and gladness ! joy and gladness, 

O happy day ! 
Every thought of sin and sadness, 

Chase, chase away. 
Heard ye not the angels telling, 
Christ, the Lord of might, excelling, 
On the earth with man is dwelling, 

Clad in our clay ! 

With the shepherd throng around him 

Haste we to bow ; 
By the angels' sign they found him, 

We know him now ! 
New-born babe of houseless stranger, 
Cradled low in Bethlehem's manger, 
Saviour from our sin and danger, 

Jesus, 'tis thou I 

God of life, in mortal weakness, 

Hail, Virgin born ! 
Infinite in lowly meekness. 

Thou wilt not scorn. 
Though ail Heaven is singing o'er thee, 
And gray wisdom bows before thee, 
When our youthful hearts adore thee. 

This lioly morn. 



228 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETIIUNE, D. D. 

Son of Mary, blessed mother! 

Thy lore we claim ; 
Son of God, our elder brother, 

O ! gentle name ! 
To thy Father's throne ascended, 
With thine own His glory blended, 
Thou art all thy trials ended, 

Ever the same. 

Thou wert born to tears and sorrows, 

Pilgrim divine ; 
Watchful nights and weary morrows, 

Brother, were thine ; 
By thy fight with strong temptation, 
By thy cup of tribulation, 
Oh, thou God of our salvation, 

With mercy shine. 

In thy holy footsteps treading. 

Guide, lest we stray, 
From thy word of promise, shedding 

Light on our way ; 
Never leave us, nor forsake us, 
Like thyself in mercy make us. 
And at last to glory take us, 

Jesus, we pray." 

G. W. B. TO Mrs. J. B. '' 3Iarch 18, 1848. 

Mt Beloved Mother : Before you receive this, you will be praying 
to God for your son on the anniversary of his birth, and I shall have 
blessed him for giving my opening life to the care of such a mother. I 
desire to renew my filial obligations, and declare to you, out of my 
heart's truth, that I am still in all reverent obedience and affection, 
your grateful son, your child.. Would that I could have better oppor- 
tunities of proving how devotedly I am yours. Dear mother, I was a 
wayward youth, and am a very faulty man ; forgive me all the past and 
give me you^ blessing in my future. God will hear us both, you for 
me, me for you." 



LETTER TO DR. VEllMILYE. 229 

Dr. Bethune to Dr. Vermilye. " Aj^ril 17, 1848. 

Mt Dear Vermilye : I am at a loss, principally from lack of proper 
information, how to act in reference to some present circumstances. 
Rumors uncertain and indistinct have run through my congregation, of 
my name having been used in several baliotings of your consistory for 
an additional minister, and, as might be supposed some uneasy inquiry 
has been excited. I find also that some out of your congregation, and 
some in, have thought me a candidate for the vacant place. It has even 
been said, though by those who had no right to speak on the subject, 
that I ought to withdraw my name. Tliis you know I cannot do, as I 
never directly or indirectly presented it ; nor can I, without impertinence, 
presume to know any tiling of proceedings in your consistory about whicli 
I have no legitimate information. At the same time, while I duly appre- 
ciate the honor of being named by any one or more individuals, as at all 
fitted for so high a station, I have a great repugnance to being tliought 
a candidate for any pulpit whatever. Other brethren may, if they choose, 
as they have a right, take another course ; but, for myself, since the 
beginning of my ministry, I have carefully avoided any step that might 
bring me under any suspicion of offering myself to any congregation, 
and I am anxious to maintain my character. From your own high sense 
of Christian honor, and the unrestrained confidence of our friendship, 
you will, I trust, appreciate my feelings when I confess myself annoyed 
by the supposition, in any quarter, of my having deviated from a rule of 
ministerial conduct which I early adopted, and have never varied from. 
I am not sure that any thing needs to be done, but as you have a better 
opportunity of knowing, I beg you to act for me as, in like circumstances, 
I would act for you. The delicacy of my position compels me to throw 
myself upon the kindness you have ever shown to your affectionate 
friend and brother, George "W. Bethuxe. 

P. S. This note is confidential, but only so far as not to prevent your 
using it to secure tlie end for wiiich it has been written." 

The above letter defiiies with perfect accuracy Dr. 
Bethime's position with reference to a question of interest, 
namely, a possible call to be associate pastor of the Colle- 
giate Church of New York. The communication did not 
and was not intended to prevent further movement in the 



230 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETIiUXE, D. D. 

matter, but solely to bring any possible negotiation to a 
point. In due time, September 15th, he was distinctly in- 
formed by Dr. John Knox, that he had been elected by the 
consistory, but the question was set at rest by Dr. Bethune's 
reply. 

" Sepieraher 25, 18-18. 
* Grace be unto you and peace be multiplied.' 

Dearly Beloved Brethren : It is with a deep sense of ray unwor- 
thiness, that I gratefully acknowledge having received on the 23d inst., 
from the hands of your committee, the enclosed call to exercise my 
ministry within the sphere of your churcli. 

You are aware, brethren, of the responsible station I now hold as the 
Pastor and Bishop of a church not undeserving of your fraternal regard, 
which is very dear to me because of its eminent fidelity in our Master's 
cause, and the affectionate kindness ever shown by them to their 
minister, for the Master's sake. This, with other circumstances, ren- 
dered this question submitted by you to my judgment, one of great 
gravity, from the influence my decision must have upon both the 
churches, and upon my future course as a Christian man, and a minister 
of the gospel. 

The result of my conscientious deliberations, and I trust, not insin- 
cere supplications for Divine help, has been that I ought to decline 
respectfully but firmly, the call which I was unworthy to receive, yet 
am not free to entertain." 

Dr. Bethune had a mulatto servant,* who rejoiced in the 
Scripture name of Aquila, or Aquilla, as be was usually 
misnomered. This faithful man always kncAV where his 
master's books were to be found ; often too, when the owner 
himself had forgotten, or never given himself the trouble 
to find out; so the two were continually in the study 
together, and the servant was of all his master's council. 



* There was something very pleasant in Dr.Bethune's relation with his servants. 
Aquila lived in his family for fourteen years, and died in the arms of the Doctor, 
who at his funeral followed tlie liearse as chief mourner. 



THE COLLEGIATE aVLL. 231 

"Aquila," said the Doctor, when he was pondering on the 
letter we liave just given, "What do you think of this call 
to the Collegiate church in New York, should I accept it?" 
^'•IIow many gentlemen did you say signed it ? " " Twenty- 
four." "Hard thing to serve twenty-four masters, sure to 
get into trouble with some of them," w^as the sententious 
and, w^e may fairly believe, decisive rejoinder. 

Many contingent advantages were sacrificed by this re- 
jection of the Collegiate call : a nearly doubled salary, easier 
work, greater leisure for literary pursuits, the near neighbor- 
hood of Mrs. Joanna Bethune, and a home in his native 
city ; but, acting to the best of his not unassisted judgment, 
Dr. Bethune chose to forego all these, and it is useless to 
speculate whether a different course of action might not 
have prolonged his life. 

This event gave occasion to a Report which was presented 
to the Third Dutch church of Philadeli^hia, and presents a 
valuable expression of sentiment as well as a sketch of 
ministerial success. It was accompanied with the sub- 
stantial donation of one thousand dollars. We quote some 
sentences. 

" How shall your committee charactei-ize the ardent desire that met 
them every where, not only for the health and happiness of their pastor, 
but for the continuance of his usefulness in a sphere where he has 
liithcrto shone with unsurpassed lustre ? 

That their efforts have through the blessings of God been crowned 
with success, no one can or does for a moment doubt; and such success, 
without endowments, without great wealth among our early pioneers, 
this pile arose at a cost of fifty-five thousand dollars. A little more 
than twelve years ago the seed was planted. The fruit has been, the 
reduction of the debt to about sixteen thousand dollars; voluntary 
contributions by the members of the society, exclusive of private 



232 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

benevolences, for various religious and charitable associations of 
between thirty and forty thousand dollars ; a large number of com- 
municants ; almost every pew, and almost every seat in the pews, either 
owned or rented; an agreeable, attentive and enlightened audience; 
the most entire and perfect harmony on all our concerns. Surely the 
seed has fallen in good ground. But sever the tie that binds us, and 
who shall answer for the consequences to this society? "Who is to 
sustain them, to guide their tottering feet through an unaccustomed 
path? To them the cloud may vanish by day, and the pillar of fire by 
night be forever extinguished. The picture must not be dwelt upon. 
We have done something, will do more. But the tie which binds us 
to our pastor, our friend, our Bethune, cannot, must not be broken." 

On the 23d of October the call to New York was again 
forwarded to Dr. Bethune with urgent letters and verbal 
messages, but met with a similar answer. 

G. Yf. B. TO Mrs. J. B. "Philadelphia, Odoler 23, 1848. 

My beloved Mother : I have been reproaching myself ever since 
declining to preach for your Liberian school. Por you I should be 
glad to do anything. That thing requires time. If it will do after a 
Avhile, tell your boy what your wishes are and he will try to be a good 
child. 

My old friend Mr. Labriskie came in again on Thursday, with the call 
in no way altered except that the additional five hundred is endorsed 
upon it. Indeed I think my people would give mo any thing I ask now, 
but alas, they cannot give me my dear mother. I\Iy time is filled with 
duties, yet passes sadly and solitary enough. You are not out of mind 
for an hour except when I am asleep, and then I often dream of you. 

I had a sweet subject for a sermon yesterday morning : The youth 
of Jesus, embracing his questioning with the doctors. It is full of 
delightful interest, and I got light iipon it I never had before. 

I send the call back to-day, but with a pang in thus consenting to be 
separated from you. 

God bless my dear mother. 

Geo. W. Bethtine." 



THE LAW AND THE MEDIATOR. 2oo 

"■ OdGler 30. 

I was happy while studying for ray last sermon. It was on Galatians 
iii. 19 : The law in the hands of the mediator. If you will compare 
the 8th and 17th verses of the chapter, you will see how strongly the 
apostle argues to show that the lavN-- is actually under or part of the 
system of mercy. A most cheering and edifying thought. 

(8th verse. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the 
heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, 
in thee shall all nations be blessed. 

17th verse. And this I say, that the covenant that was confirmed 
before of God in Christ, the law, wliicli was four hundred and thirty 
years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of no 
effect. 

19th verse. "Wherefore then serveth the law ? It was added because 
of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was 
made ; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.) 

It seems to me that the reasoning of the apostles throughout the 
chapter, upsets the millenarian notions about the glory the Jews are 
to have in the latter days. The seed of Abraham to whom the promises 
arc made, is the seed of faith, not of nature. The moment Jew and 
Gentile are in Christ, they are one, no difference. 

I am quite well, though a little Mondayish, for I worked hard 
yesterday." 

" NoveTtiher 5. 

I was preaching this morning to a handful of my people (for the 
weather was stormy), on the first verse of the xc. Psalm: 'The 
Lord our dwelling-place in all generations.' OuVy the plural pronoun, 
connects the believer with all God's people in the past and in the future, 
as one family, having one dwelling-place, home in God. The thought^ 
open beautifully. 

I had a high compliment paid me the other day, and as it may gratify 
you, I may be pardoned the vanity of telling it. Professor Anthon 
(the learned Anthon of Columbia College) has dedicated his late 
edition of Xenophon's Memorabilia of Socrates to me. I have not 
even seen the Professor for many years, though he has been kind 
enough to write me ttvice in answer to some literary questions I put 
to him. 



234 iMEjIOIP. OF Gi:0. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

It runs : ' To Eev. George ^Y. Bethune, D.T>. the able theologian, the 
eloquent divine, the graceful and accomplished scholar, this work is re- 
spectfully dedicated by one who takes pride in clainung him as an early 
pupil and a steadfast friend.' 

There is no interested motive that can be imagined for this." 

All this writing had one inevitable effect, and we must 
alas ! here chronicle that Dr. Bethune's hand-writing, once 
so neat and plain, had by this time become illegible 
altogether. 

" You laugh at your hand-writing," says his friend Littell. 
"How beautiful it is in general^ but how much in general 
it is ! I take great credit to myself for making it out, and 
as it looks like some of the Arabic MSS., Avhich are 
copied into some of your Commentaries, I may have too 
readily yielded to the notion that I could not read them." 

Here is another whimsical jeremiade of later date.'^ It 
seems we little know hov/ much we cause our brother to 
sin by careless calligraphy. 

"My deak Major: Yours of the 23d reached me yesterday. I had 
previously received the Doctor's. It was one of his distinguished 
efforts, fairly brilliant. 

I knew he must be going somewhere by the way the lines ran. I 
thought he must be going a fishing for there were lots of fins tails and 
fish-hooks. But where, O Roberto ! that was the question. I followed 
the lines in hopes they might terminate at the destined place. But no, 
they did not terminate at all. Instinctively I turned over the leaf; they 
were running still, sliding down into the very south-east corner of the 
sheet, and the doctor stiU paying out. 

In despair I took the back track. In other words tried to read the 
letter backwards. Tracing my way slowly back, I found about the mid- 
dle of the letter the word ' river'. This confirmed me in the notion that 

* From Dr. I. Wlieatoa Smith. 



ILLEGIBLE WKITING. 235 

the Dr. wa^ going a fishing, for it seemed to me a river would be a very 
appropriate place for it. But what river? Here I was hung up again, 
till glancing on I made out with difficulty the word ' Lake.' I conject- 
ured that the river must empty into this lake, which seemed a very prop- 
er thing for a river to do. I now felt tolerably certain the Dr. was go- 
ing a fishing in a river emptying into a lake, and as the fishing would 
naturally be somewhere about the outlet, I was pretty sure of finding 
him. But ^vhat lake, I could not divine. The best I could make of it 
was ' Jimco'. I had never heard of such a lake, and wondered where 
it could be ; when to complete my wonderment I found the word pre- 
ceding river was Seven. Now, thought I, if there are seven of these 
rivers emptying into Lake ' Jimco', the Lord only knows which of them 
the Dr. is going to fish, and for all I know he may fish Lake ' Jimco' 
itself. 

In this dilemma your letter arrived, and with aid from it I have been 
able to translate a large portion of the Doctor's. Now, I beg of you, 
don't tell the Dr. that I criticize his writing, for, just as likely as not, in 
attempting any sudden change he will spoil his hand." 

In the early part of September, 1848, the "Union Magazine" 
was purchased by John Sartain. Dr. Bethune was offered 
one hundred dollars per month to edit it. This offer he was 
under the necessity of declining, and contented himself with 
undertaking to supply nine articles per year at $50 per ar- 
ticle. The enterprising purchasers of the Magazine would 
fain have bound him wholly to their interests by a promise 
not to write for other periodicals, but they did not succeed 
in so doing. He was, however, glad to have it to say that 
he was writing for one Monthly, in order to resist the im- 
portunities of others. 

Aunt Betsey's fireside lectures began to appear in the 
latter part of the year 1849. These lectures which appeared 
in the " Union Magazine'' were amusing and popular. Aunt 
Betsey was a real personage, a favorite aunt of Mrs. BethunC; 
whom he knew and loved right well. 



238 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETIIUNE, D. D. 

" The advice of the Laird of Dumbiedykes' father may be 
applied" writes the author to his mother, " with a little 
change to a book intended to do good. ' Be aye preparing 
to print such books, for they do good wliile you are sleeping ; 
far away from your immediate sphere, and even after you 
are dead.' I am, it is true, by no means great at authorship, 
but have the consolation of knowing that my books have 
done some good.'' 

We present a specimen of Aunt Betsey's circle as talking 
from Sartain. 

"We are a quiet family of a half dozen; my excellent sister and her 
excellent husband, the one a steady, sensible notable housewife, the 
other a zealous gentleman farmer, whose purse suffers occsaionally 
from his promising experiments ; their daughter Kate, in the bloom of 
seventeen, light-hearted and bright-minded, not the less winning for be- 
ing not a little mischievous, as Kates always are; their son Tom, two 
years older, somewhat of a coxcomb, but a good fellow at bottom, who 
is dubbed a law-student, from spending a few hours a week in 'Squire 
Lackbrief s office ; Aunt Betsey, my mother's older and only sister ; and 
myself, familiarly called Uncle Tom, of whom the less said the better, a 
confirmed bachelor, and less fond of talking than using my pen, though 
it is of little use, except in recording such scraps of second-hand wis- 
dom as I hear from others. 

Nov. 10, 18 — . This afternoon Tom returned from town, bringing 
Kate a letter, crossed and recrossed in a m.inute, faint-inked chirography, 
from a quondam schoolmate of hers, now a dashing belle. Kate's brow 
flushed, and her hands trembled with excitement as she read the epistle 
under the lamp; ' What is it my child?' said her mother. Kate read 
on to the last word of the glossy, rose-colored sheet; and then, drawing 
her chair between my sister and Aunt Betsey, she began : 

' Only think, Fanny Fryer says that old IMiss Meddler told her that ' — 
Here she sunk her voice so low that Tom and I (his father was deep in 

the account of a cattle sale) could only catch — ' Mrs you know 

Miss .... that married the rich brewer's son only two years ago .... 
Major. . . . used to be her lover. . . . father broke off the match . . . . 



AUNT BETSEY OX SCANDAL. 237 

came back fi'om Europe .... constantly walking together .... fam- 
ily consultaticn . • . . likely to be a duel . . . . everybody talking about 
it .... hushed up ... . must not say anything to any one, at least 
that she told me ' 

*Eie ! Fie ! my dearie, what does thee fash thy bonny head with such 
bletherin' malice. It's no becoming a lassie like thee, or any lady, to 
file her tongue with tales like that. The evilest sign of a woman, I know, 
is being given to scandal.' 

(Aunt Betsey was regularly set in for a fireside lecture.) 

' Old Dr. McCreechie of the Tollbooth-kirk, never said a truer word, 
than that a "scandalous tongue always showed a licentious heart " ; for 
"out of the fulness of the heart the mouth speaketh", and it is only out 
of an evil heart that evil things can come. Charity, Avhich is a complete 
name for all goodness, just as Love is the name of God — " thinketh no 
evil." 

' But aunt, dear aunty,' put in the blushing Kate, ' when people expose 
themselves, surely charity ' — 

' Is not easily provoked, dearie, which, though I don't know the oreeg- 
inal, means, I suppose, is not easily suspicious of evil, sees everything 
in the best light, makes every possible allowance, and even imagines ex- 
cuses it cannot see, because " it rejoiceth not in iniquity", — hates the 
very sight and thought of crime, and if it cannot discover innocence, 
turns its bonny eye away up to heaven with a tear in it, as a prayer for 
the sinner's pardon to our heavenly Father, who " pitieth our infirmities, 
and rememboreth that we are but dust". So should thee do, my darling. 
If our good God looked at our evil, " who could stand ? " and it aye seems 
to me like a defying Him who is ever hearing what we say, to speak of 
our neighbour's faults, because the Saviourhas told us we shall be meas- 
ured by our own stoup. I have heard ministers say that the name of 
the devil is accuser, and we know that he was a liar from the beginning, 
so that wickedness, lying and scandal make up his 'character ; and your 
scandalizers are just like the little devils that the muckle de'il uses to 
do his mischief with. 

'But when our Lord came to destroy the works of the devil, and set us 
a pattern of a good man, he became the friend of sinners, because lie 
pitied them, and interceded for their pardon. How much must God hate 
to hear us talking scandal, like the devil ! How much must He love to 
hear us talking kindly, and gently, and meekly, like his well-beloved 



238 MEMOm OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

Son ! When the Blessed One -ivas upon earth, his words were all mer- 
ciful, except to those who tliought themselves better than others, and 
spoke evil of them ; tliat was enough to prove that they were desperate- 
ly wicked themselves, because it was so unlike our Father in Heaven- 
They made a great pretence of goodness, but they were hypocrites, just 
white-washed sepulchres. Do you no mind when they brought to him 
the poor fallen misdoer, and she lay silent in the dust at his holy feet, 
without a word to say, in the sorrows of her shame, how he bid the one 
without sin to cast the first stone ? There was but One without sin 
among tliat company, and He just bid her " go and sin no more." 

Indeed, and indeed Dr. McCreechie was right, there is ahvays a licen- 
tious heart where there is a scandalous tongue ; it is they who love the 
sin that love to talk about it, and they, who know they would not resist 
temptation, that are most ready to think another has not. Their imagi- 
nations are just like the black corbie that Noah sent out of the ark, 
scenting the dead and the lo.athsome, and flying to glut themselves with 
what is vile ; but let yours, lassie, be like the sweet silver-winged dove 
that came back with the green branch of hope in her bill. The world is 
bad enow, but God loves it, and his Son died for it, and it is yet to be 
like another heaven ; and there's many a green branch for the dove, if 
there be many a dead thing for the corbie. It was like a dove that the 
Spirit came down to the Saviour, and without the spirit of a dove we can 
never fly up to him. 

' Xever be like a corbie, Katie dear, except it be to those that God 
clianged from their nature, and sent to carry bread to his hungry saint. 
Mistress "Wheatfiold (Aunt Betsey is scrupulous in giving my sister her 
matronly title, as honour due to the female head of the family), if I am a 
wee bit hard on the lassie its no' in unkindness. But, 'deed, our Katie 
is just like the rest of us, the descendant of old Adam, and, what for 
should I not say, a daughter of old Eve ? for she it was that the devil 
threw his glamour over, and the pleasant voice of his bonny bride led 
the man astray. 

' The Apostle calls woman the weaker vessel, but he himself tells u.s 
that God puts strength into weak things, and women are strong for good, 
but may be also, as all know, strong for evil. As you train the lassie, 
you make the wife and mother ; and the hand that rocks the cradle rules 
the world, as some one says. 

* We are over-fond of talking about the dignity of the sex, and unvrill- 



239 



ing to show that womayi can do wrong, in the same breath that we con- 
demn women for doing wrong. Let Katie wear the ornaments of a meek 
ajid quiet spirit , which are of more price in God's sight than pearlings 
or diamonds. It's more than foil}'' to say out in tlie church that we are 
"miserable sinners ", and tbat " there's no hciib.li in us " and after each 
commandment " Lord liaA^e mercy upon us, and incline our hearts to 
keep this law"; and then, at our firesides, draw ourselves up as if we 
could not fall into the sin which others have fallen into. Human na- 
ture is a poor frail thing, and the more we tbink so of it, tlie more chari- 
table will we be toward our fellow-sinners, and the more humble our- 
selves. ''The beginning of strife is like the letting out of water", and so 
is die beginning ot an evil habit. If you do not stop it at the first, the 
tide will soon be too strong for you. Katie has never talked scandal in 
my hearing before, and I am fain to keep her from ever talking it 
again.' 

* But dear, good, precious Aunt Betsey,' half-sobbed Katie, * I only — ' 
'Yes, dearie, you only — Miss Meddler only told Fanny Pryer, and 

Fanny Tryer onhj wrote to you , and you onli/ told us, and if we oiily 
went on telling others, and they others, the character of these people, 
who may be as innocent as lambs, would be ruined. Just bring it home, 
and think what it is to have one's fair character stained in such a way I 
We would not be thieves, yet we take away wliat no gold or silver could 
buy or redeem ; we would not be murderers, yet we break the hearts of 
our fellow-beings with shame ; and this by 07iJt/ repeating what malice 
dared first onli/ whisper in a single ear — until every one hears of it, and, 
then we excuse ourselves by saying, " the thing is so public that it is 
the talk of the town"! 

* Don't tell me that circumstances are so strong as to make the thing 
certain. Such is the time for Charity to plead; for she '• hopeth all 
tlungs ". Tom there can tell — that many a man has been condemned on 
circumstantial evidence, whose innocence afterward was *' brought fortli 
as the light ". Our good house-dog Faithful, that Tom shot, — because a 
bheep was killed, and the dumb beast, that could not speak for himself, 
came home bloody about tlie mouth, — had been but defending his mas- 
ter's flock from the strange mastiif that was found the next day dead be- 
hind the stone-dyke; and all our sorrow can never bring back to our 
ear the deep bark at midnight that told us the sleepless sentinel was on 



240 MEMOIPw OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

his round. How sorry should we be, when this story of the 's turns out 

false, if we have allowed ourselves for a moment to think so ill of them, 
much more, if we have led others to do so. One, who knows men's 
hearts better than we can know them, has left a blessing for those, 
against whom '■ all men speak all manner of evil falsely for his sake " ; so 
the world treated the prophets and apostles : and so they crucified the 
spotless Lamb of God. Never, then, think a scandal must be true be- 
cause all the world tells it. One little tongue, that is "set on Sre of 
hell," may set the world on fi.re. 

'Even if the scandalized people are guilty, we are not called on to be 
their executioners. A hangman is always held infamous by the general 
prejudice ; but they are worthy of infamy who perform that oiHce as 
amateurs. 

' The devil has not so cloven a foot, but he may wear a kid slipper; 
yes, and he can write letters on rose-coloured paper, Katie, though they 

smell of musk instead of brimstone And now, Katie, my 

darling,' said Aunt Eetsey as she rose up, and then bent her stately 
head to kiss our pet on her wet cheeks, ' go your ways ; and when you 
repeat the Lord's Prayer to-night, pause to think what you mean as you 
say : 

''Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against 
us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil ! ' " 

Here Jonas came in with our little supper, v/hich we are too fond of 
old-fashioned comforts to miss, and Aunt Betsey's lecture on scandal 
was finished." 

We must again pass over cursorily nearly a year of time, 
and a vast mass of correspondence. The time is without 
incident, and the correspondence of the usual character. 

If any man in a prominent position would take the trouble 
to keep a register of all the irrelevant, and impertinent let- 
ters which he receives, what an amazing list it would be. 
What a drain upon his pocket to pa}^ the postage of the an- 
swers ; what a heavy tax in stationery. What hours of 
precious time consumed in deciphering their ignoble callig- 



IRRELEVANT LETTERS. 241 

raphy, and consigning them to the waste-paper basket. 
How many scores of people to be gratified with an auto- 
graph and a sentiment, who have not the good breeding to 
enclose a stamp in the letter of application. How many 
whom he has never heard of desire introductions to those 
he has never seen. How many desire to be put in places 
which could by no possibility be in his gift. How many 
want his money on the simple pretext that he has it and 
they have not. How difficult, always, to say no, civilly, 
and how impossible in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred 
to say yes. Such letters and such annoyances, are the in- 
evitable penalty of position. The careful wife of the sub- 
ject of our memoirs, kept all her husband's letters, and 
filed them duly away. We are, therefore, admitted to the 
privilege of contemplating a small mountain of epistolary 
matter ; each letter of which is amply done justice to, with 
a single glance, if " fair writ,'' or certainly consigned to 
oblivion, when ten minutes' strain upon the optic nerve 
lias been given to illegible incoherence. One sensitive 
creature has been startled, in the stillness of his room, by a 
white dove that ''perched above the chamber door" ; im- 
mediately thereafter, he fell into an illness, and, on conva- 
lescing, wrote to Dr. Bethune for a piece of poetry suited 
to this interesting and inscrutable circumstance. Another, 
more importunate, has a country parish, must drive about, 
and is so afraid of a horse that his life is a burden to him. 
He pathetically prays our Doctor to procure him a post 
where he will not have to ride or drive. A third coolly 
asks him to revise a work for the press, but makes no men- 
tion of a cheque in payment. There are many letters anent 
the Thousand Islan'd Church. There are outpourings of 
16 



242 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

the heart on matters personal and religious ; there are in- 
vitations to preach, and announcements of honorary elec- 
tions ; and, by the time we reach the missive which sets forth 
its writer's opinion, that " the yankees have thick epider- 
mides,'^ we shall have arrived at material for narrative. 

We are now to chronicle another great change in our min- 
ister's life, in his departure from Philadelphia, the reasons 
for which are fully set forth in an elaborate paper of resig- 
nation, to the consistory of his church. It is dated Brook- 
lyn, August 28, 1849. 

The great cause for removal was the necessity of Mrs. 
Bethune's health, and his duty as a faithful husband. She 
had been compelled to remove to Brooklyn, and her fre- 
quent and painful attacks had constantly distracted the pas- 
tor's mind and heart : 

" I have never been more sensible," he -writes, '• than I am at present, 
indeed, never have I felt so keenly the obligations under which I am, to 
you and your congregation. I recall, Arith hearty gratitude, the gener- 
ous devotion of the little band, who began the enterprise of building the 
clu;rch under God for me. I recall, though I cannot sufficiently esti- 
mate, their devoted zeal, courage, perseverance and liberality, among 
the dark and difficult times of its earlier history. I recall the prompt- 
ness with which they, and those in later times associated with them, 
have always met their engagements with me ; and the very liberal man- 
ner in which they have ministered to my necessity and comfort beyond 
my claims upon them, especially when they enabled me to go abroad 
for my health, advancing me my salary when I was absent, and during 
the same time paying for the supply of the pulpit ; and again more re- 
cently, in a munificent present as a token of their regard, on Christmas 
last. I recall the forbearance and earnest friendship shewn me during 
the bitterest trials of my ministerial life, when, on returning, sick and 
feeble from abroad, I found myself assailed by persecutions from those 
whom I would have died to serve. I recall the ever ready welcome 
Avhich has met me on the threshhold of every household, from every in- 



LEAVING PHILADELPHIA. 243 

dividual of tlie congregation. Very fondly have I loved my people, and 
I know that I have been loved in return, notwithstanding my infirmities 
my errors and my faults. I have ever felt as if my congregation Avas to 
me as a family. I am deeply sensible of my many deficiencies, but the 
more grateful for their aftection, which has been granted to me notwith- 
standing them all. 

In these circumstances, I feel, and I tliink you should feel, tliat noth- 
ing short of necessity could sever the bond between us. It is nothing 
less than the hand of God that dissolves our union, and to his Providence 
we should humbly submit, because what God does is wise and right. Nei- 
ther ambition, nor avarice, nor love of ease, seduce me from you. Such 
motives I have more than once cheerfully resigned for your sake. I ex- 
pect, on my separation from you, to take charge of a feeble, much dilap- 
idated church, which has appealed to me for help, to save them from 
dissolution. I never expect to be so happy with another church, or to 
find such another people as that wliich my heart loves the more tenderly, 
as I must tear myself from it. As I have been writing, my mind's eye 
has been going from pew to pew, from person to person, seeing each 
familiar face, receiving the greeting of each familiar voice. Brethren 
and friends, I could not tear myself from you unless I were compelled to 
do so." 

He then proceeds to show that no expedient will obviate 
the necessity of this separation, and considers its probable 
effect npon the coDgregation. Fears are entertained that 
the people will be scattered, but he says : 

" Much will depend on the prompt action of the consistory and 
Board of Trustees, in supplying the vacant pulpit, by doing which, they 
may not merely prevent people from going away, but also induce others 
to join with you. For this reason, let me earnestly advise that as soon 
as possible, you decide upon calling some well-known and esteemed 
minister, without waiting until the congregation are distracted by various 
preferences, which would inevitably be the case, should you throw open 
your pulpit to candidates. Besides, such a minister as you should de- 
cide to have, would be far more likely to accept a call when promptly 
and unanimously given, than after a delay. It is also, believe me, a 
very poor way to judge of a preacher's quahfications, on hearing once 



244 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

or twice in the pulpit. It is far better to choose one whom you have 
never seen, if he has the high esteem of his brethren as a faithful and 
able minister of the New Testament. The intense anxiety I feel, and 
shall continue to feel in your future welfare,, must be my excuse for not 
waiting until my advice is asked before I give it ; and I dare to hope 
that if you act promptly, all, by the blessing of God, will be more than 
well. When the necessary formalities are gone through with, I shall, 
with the permission of Providence, go to Philadelphia, and attempt to 
utter my farewell. Commending you to God, and the bond of his 
grace, and assuring each of you of my grateful and undying affection, 
I am, 

Your servant in the Gospel of Christ, 

Geo. W. Bethune." 

The receipt of this communication was bewailed, but its 
arguments could not be resisted. A crowd of letters from 
all sorts of people testify the golden opinions which had 
been won : 

*' Your letter and resignation," writes Captain G. D. Magruder, 6th of 
September, "was read to a crowded lecture-room on Monday night. 
Many tears were shed, and the deepest sorrow manifested by the people, 
but not a word of censure or blame did I hear from any quarter ; there 
was a disposition not to receive your resignation, supposing a ' leave of 
absence for three or six months would answer your purpose,' but when 
told that this course had been proposed to you, there was a sorrowful 
acquiescence to the decrees of Providence, which seemed unendurable. 
That some small portion of the congregation will be induced to leave 
the church in her present distress, is more than probable, but that there 
will be anything like a general defection, I have no idea. The very cir- 
cumstances of our trouble in parting from a pastor so justly cherished by 
us all, will draw more closely the bonds of union between those who love 
the cause of the Master, the great Head of the Church." 

Another dear friend writes under the same date : 

"My Dear Dominie: How shall I tell you of our grief? My 
thoughts come slowly and my words, also, when I attempt to give 



INVITATION TO BALTIMORE. 245 

language to that which our hearts so deeply feel. We have for weeks 
been endeavoring to resign ourselves to the necessity of a separation 
which we knew to be inevitable, and thought we had in a measure sue- 
ceeded ; but when it was announced that you had actually determined 
upon it, we discovered how illy we were prepared. Whatever may 
have been our shortcomings and neglects of duty while you were still 
with us, whatever apparent coldness there may have been, all now is 
love and sorrow. I cannot bear to realize that your ministrations 
amongst us are at an end ; and I fear, however much you may depre- 
cate such a consequence, that the church will never recover from the 
effects of your loss. You cannot wonder that such should be the case, 
for your congregation is, in a peculiar manner, made up of members 
drawn together by personal attachment to you ; admiration of your 
eloquence attracting them to the church, and love of yourself settling 
them there. Your endeavor has always been to make them good 
Christians, rather than sectarians. Is it strange then that, if any have 
previously had a preference for another form of worship, they should 
desire to return to it now that you have left.^ " 

In 1848 he received an attractive invitation to a new 
Presbyterian enterprise in Baltimore, which was declined. 
In the same year he delivered the Oration before the Phi 
Beta Kappa of Dartmouth College. It may be well to add 
that, in each congregation, Dr. B's affectionate nature would 
lead him to take into closest counsel some sympathizing 
friend ; and as Mrs. Peter R. Livingston was at Rhinebeck, so 
was Mrs. Langdon Elwyn in Philadelphia, a second mother. 
Thus we reach in this memoir, what mathematicians call a 
''special point;'' we mean the removal to Brooklyn as 
stated supply to the Central Reformed Dutch Church. 

Dr. Bethune had now attained the zenith of his fame, and 
it will not be rash to say stood foremost among our popular 
speakers. Facile princeps in his own denomination the 
whole body of Christians were ready to do him honor. Not 
only well known in various paths of literature, his influence 



246 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETIIUNE, D. D. 

was constantly sought by political aspirants. " For a bit 
of innocent mischief/' as Thackera}^ says, we present an 
idea of the number and kind of communications which he 
received and answered. First comes a formula, terse and 
practical, to secure from a distinguished citizen his auto- 
graph. 

Rey. George Bethune, D.D. " New York, Oct. 29, 1819. 

Dear Sir: I employ all my leisure time in the collection of a.uto- 
graphs. I am a clerk in a wholesale house in this city, and am con- 
sequently at work through the day. The evenings are mine ov/n. 
Occasionally what is termed a dull day comes, when I may sit down 
and follow mine inclination. Then I endeavour to possess myself of 
the autographs of the great men of mine own and of other countries. 
I have been thus employed for three months only ; during which time 
I have heen very fortunate ; since I have obtained communications 
from so great men as Pierpont, Tyng, Potts, Cone, Beecher, Magoun, 
Sprague, and many more of like caliber. I have, too, the autographs 
of Clay, of our own dear country ; and of Lamartine of France. The 
former is, perhaps, one of the greatest men of our time. The latter, I 
think, is the greatest, because the best, man, that has lived in France 
since Lafayette. But this is a matter of opinion. I have the signa- 
tures of some twenty of the most celebrated clergymen, of all denomi- 
nations, excepting one, in this country. I am sorry that I could not 
attend upon your anniversary address last evening. You will receive 
this communication from a member of your church with whom I am 
acquainted. If it shall be your pleasure to transmit your autograph 
to me, through him, or in any other way, I shall be much obliged. 

Assuring you of ray respect and esteem, I have the pleasure to be 
respectfully yours, 

J. T. P . 

My address is No. 1 Rutger's Street, in this city." 

At the risk of wearying our readers we shall try to give 
some idea of the demands made upon a popular preacher's 
time, outside of the duties of his office. The following ap- 
plications were made to Dr. Bethune in the course of a 



MULTIFARIOUS DEMANDS. 247 

year. Nine literary societies of different colleges request 
addresses ; two theological societies ask similar favors ; 
the Clmrcli at Saugerties asks a sermon at the laying of 
corner-stone at Harlingen, and at its dedication ; that of 
Southwarkj a lecture to pay its debts ; and that of Geason, 
a charge to its new pastor ; and six other churches desire 
sermons upon various grounds ; one person wishes him to 
come to Marbletown and preach for a cliurch that is yet in 
the womb of the future ; four Tract, two Bible, four Sun- 
day school, one Sabbath, and three Colonization Associations 
put in their claims ; fourteen Institutes, or Lyceums, de- 
mand lectures. Of more important claims, the New England 
Society, the Union Safety Committee, American Dramatic 
Fund Association, Demonstration of respect to Mr. J. Fen- 
nimore Cooper, and the Smithsonian Institute, each has a 
place. Only one Seamen's Friend Society calls for help, but 
the people at Biloxi, Miss., have devised a subscription plan 
which Dr. Bethune is to advance ; one young minister 
would like instruction in the art of reading ; Dr. K. 
wants a sermon printed ; Mrs. 0. appeals for the Or- 
phan Asylum ; the young ladies of Heidelberg Hall would 
be entertained ; the steamer Lafayette needs a speech on its 
trial trip ; the biographer of Eev. \7alter Colton petitions 
for material ; a stranger requests a copy of Fourth of 
July Address ; Mr. R. heard Dr. Bethune lecture two 
years ago, and thinks that sufficient basis on which to 
demand an introduction to Hon. Daniel Webster; a dis- 
ciple of Coke and Justinian, who quotes Latin freely, 
pleads for a copy of address ; an illegible writer from Keo- 
kuk has something to say about his son George and West 
Point ; a youth in the Navy wishes Dr. Bethune to have 
him ordered on shore ; the Teachers and Friends of Educa- 



248 MEMOIU OF GEO. \>\ EETHUxNE, D. D. 

tion at Somerville, N. J., want to hear the Brooklyn pastor ; 
Mr. B. wants Dr. B. to give a sermon, as the petitioner 
is unable to do it ; Mr. Y. wishes to lecture before a 
Sunday school Association, for purposes of his own, and 
the Doctor is to help him ; the Navy man appears again ; 
a gentleman of Wihnington, Delaware, wishes aid in pub- 
lishing a book that will enable him to support and educate 
two dear little boys ; the Literary World defines its posi- 
tion and asks support ; J. C. Guldin desires to know what 
is the date of Paraeus' lectures on Ursinus,, owned by Dr. 
B. ; a cautious architect would find the prevailing taste of 
a congregation for which he is to design a church ; Rev. 
Dr. B. is introduced, a missionary whom Dr. Bethune 
is to entertain in the German tongue ; Mr. H. leaves 
his MSS. for recommendation and criticisms, and the Min- 
nesota Historical Society desire this overworked man to 
come and see them. The list might be continued up to one 
hundred and fifty requests for important aid in the space of 
a twelvemonth ; and they come up from all parts of the land, 
from Maine to Georgia, and from the Atlantic far beyond 
the Mississippi. 



BROOKLYN TUOrOSALS. 249 



CHAPTER X. 

NEW CHURCH BROOKLYN. — GOES ABROAD. 

The middle of May, 1850, brought another change to Dr. 
Bethune, and one that has already been slightly men- 
tioned. The steps towards this change are peifectly well 
described in the original papers : 

J. H. Brower and others, to Dr. Bethune. 

"Brooklyn, Maij 15, 1850. 

Keverend and Dear Sir: After much reflection, and we trust 
under the guidance of the great Head of tlie Church, we have consid- 
ered it our duty to lay before you in form the following suggestions and 
overtures. 

You cannot but be aware of having a number of friends, who ear- 
nestly and sincerely desire your permanent settlement in this city. As 
a nucleus, and to make a basis of action, we have taken it upon our- 
selves to call upon you in this way, in the hope you may consider our 
overtures, and that the Supreme Director may guide your steps 
hitherward. 

While the city of Brooklyn is proverbial for the many and well-sup« 
ported churches of several denominations, it must be manifest to you 
that those of our denomination have not been conspicuous, nor emi- 
nently successful among them. It may not be well to venture upon any 
reasons for this ; but, seeing the fact, rather to seek the path of duty, to 
the end, with God's blessing upon our efforts, that our church may find 
a more elevated position, and larger sphere of usefulness in the cause of 
the Redeemer. 

We cannot but feel it was through God's merciful interposition you 
came to Brooklyn, and for several months past have so faithfully minis- 
tered in spiritual things to all of us, and many others, whereby an ex- 
piring lamp has begun to burn brightly, and to give promise of still 
better days. It is true we cannot yet present ourselves to you in the 



250 me:uoir of geo. w. eethune, d. d. 

matured strength Ave could wisli, but remembering that the Saviour took 
little children in his arms and blessed them, we rely in faith upon a 
blessing in store for us, if we prayerfully seek it, and for His glory 
combine our works with our faitli. 

Our already large, and still rapidly increasing population, its marked 
church-going character, and highly creditable observance of the Sabbath 
and the sanctuary, seem to lay before us an ample field for our success ; 
therefore, while we aim to include the congregation of the Central 
church, we propose, for obvious reasons, to take up an entirely new en- 
terprise and church organization, under your pastoral charge (if you 
■will authorize it) and without any unnecessary delay, purchase a proper 
location, procure the necessary plans to be adopted, (all with your good 
counsel and approval) and erect a church edifice. Towards the cost of 
all this, we are prepared to guarantee, by our own subscriptions, and of 
such others as we may be enabled to associate with us, a sum of not 
less than twenty-five thousand dollars ; and, we may add, as the result 
of our deliberations, we have strong confidence that any debt which may 
remain upon the property, will be paid off" within a reasonable time after 
it shall be ready for occupation. 

We have also deliberated upon the necessary provision to be made 
for your own support in the settlement proposed, and feel ourselves jus- 
tified in naming the sum of four thousand dollars per annum. If this 
latter suggestion may seem to you as abruptly approached, or out of 
place at this early stage of our overtures, we pray you will excuse it, 
when we say, we have felt it to be a connecting link in the chain of our 
duty, to assure you of our disposition and determination to provide a 
comfortable and cheerful fire-side for our spiritual teacher, while a 
bountiful Providence affords such to ourselves. 

Having now laid the desires of our hearts and purposes of our hands 
before you, we cheerfully leave ourselves to your prayers, and the an- 
swer you shall receive from on high, and subscribe ourselves. Rev- 
erend and Dear Sir, 

Very faithfully, your friends and servants, 

J. H. Bkower. 

A. L. Reid. 
John T. Mo gee. 
Gerrit Smith. 

B. B. Bltdenburgh." 



EUROPEAN TOUR. 251 

A favorable repl}^ was sent, and now that a new church 
was to be erected involving- large responsibilities, it seemed 
a good occasion for another tour to Europe, which would 
benefit his health, and strengthen him for future toil. On 
the 28th of June, he sailed in the Atlantic, and we have 
the following' record of his progress : 

"Edinbuegii, yl»^. 14, 1850. 
On leaving Liverpool, I went almost immediately to Ashbourne, near 
Dovedale, the scene of the Second (Cotton's) part of the Complete 
Angler. You will see by reading it over, that he (Cotton) comes across 
Viator and brings him to his house. Places on the road there are de- 
scribed, or at least named ; there also is Dovedale, so called from the 
river Dove {i. c. in Saxon white, whence our word for the bird), which 
flows between high hills or mountains lying close together ; it is 
a strikingly beautiful and, in places, sublime, ravine. Towards the head 
of Dovedale stands Beresford House, the residence of Cotton the Ang- 
ler, where he entertained Father Walton, and put him to sleep in a bed- 
room, the chimney-piece of which was carved on each side, Avith the in- 
itials of his and Walton's name. Now, over this, to me, classic ground, 
I went step by step, and, strange to say, found that I knew much more 
about the olden times of the country than the people themselves. I for- 
tunately fell in with Shipley, the Angler, whom I knew by his book, 
which 1 have had for several years. He is a barber, who has just got 
£ 300 a year by the will of his uncle, the late Vicar of Ashbourne. I 
found Beresford Hall in a most shocking condition, all, in fact, in ruins, 
except a few rooms ; I looked for the chimney-piece (spoken of above), 
but it cannot be found ; I did find, however, the fragments bearing 
date 1G56, and have got enough wood from each of them for a landing 
net handle. Shipley promises that he can get for me the iohacco box of 
Izaak Walton, which he says has been in a family he knows of for two 
generations. He may be mistaken, but if I acquire it, what a relic it will 
be. 

From Ashbourne I came through Derby to York, a most interesting 
old city ; old walls, old churches, old houses, on every side. The Min- 
ster tar exceeded all my imagination of it. Could we have such Gotliic 
buildings, I should no longer oppose the task. From York I came to New 



252 MEMOm OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. 1). 

Castle on Tyne, where I lingered for a day, rummaging Grant's old 
book-shop ; he is a fine example of an enthusiastic biblio-maniac. Last 
night I came here, and to-morrow go to Glasgow." 

"Bristol, Auff. 28, 1850. 
Vv'inchester, where old Izaak Walton is buried, is like an old romance, 
with its Cathedral, very beautiful, and presenting the Qifferent styles of 
the different periods in which its several parts were built, and its col- 
lege cloisters, and other ecclesiastical buildings hid away in labyrinths of 
green, and under avenues of old trees, while the city is built around 
them. I have never seen anything so full of past times ; Salisbury in a 
great measure partakes of the same characteristics. The Cathedral is 
line ; the spire, I believe, is thought to be the finest in England, but I 
do not like it so well as Winchester." 

" Amstesdam, Sej^t. 4, 1850. 

Sunday I spent in Rotterdam, and had the pleasure of attending Di- 
vine Service, without understanding more than a thousandth part of 
what was said ; but it would have done your heart good to hear the 
Dutchmen sing, with the noble, though not vrell-played, organ accom- 
panying them. It vv'as really like the voice of many waters. 

I am very glad that I have set out on this tour through Holland, for it 
is very interesting to me. The only drawback to my satisfoction (be- 
sides my not being able to understand Dutch) is the expense; it is 
quite as dear as England, and, to one not knowing the language, perhaps 
more so. 

On Monday I went up the lower branch of the Rhine to Arnheim, 
which is really a Dutch paradise. The place is not large, perhaps 
15,000 inhabitants, and it was formerly fortified so as to be one of the 
strongest towns in the Low Countries, but now all these ramparts are 
turned into public walks, which are delightfully arranged and kept Avith 
the utmost skill. I saw one or two country-houses, the grounds of 
which were quite as well cared for as any in England. From Arn- 
. heim I came to Utrecht so famous in the history of these extraordinary 
people ; saw a small but good collection of paintings ; the place, now a 
college hall, in which the union of Utrecht was signed, that union was 
the pattern of our union of the states, looked over the Cathedral 
wliich has been shaken by storms and spoiled by modern improvements 



PAUL potter's bull. 253 

so-called ; wandered tlirough Ihe streets amusing myself wiih the 
people's queer costumes some of them seemed quite as much amused 
with mine, and spent hours in the delicious, public pleasure-grounds, 
extending like those of Arnhcira all round the city,— woods, water and 
rich green grass. Amsterdam is so much larger than any other 
of the cities of Holland that it presents of course far more objects of 
interest." 

" Among other things that I have seen, is the famous bull painting by 
Paul Potter in the collections at the Hague. It ranks in pecuniary 
estimate as the fourth picture in the world. It is very large and the 
figures the size of life. The bull stands in the foreground of a Dutch 
meadow, the distance of which is admirably given ; an old man, the 
herd, stands beside a tree ; a placid looking cow is chewing her cud, 
with her broad, honest face towards you ; two or three sheep are in 
different positions, and the young bull stands easily out, looking calmly 
in your eyes ; but in the cow, the sheep, and particularly the bull, the 
imitation is so complete that it seems as if every hair was painted 
separately, this, too, without sacrificing the main effect to the detail. 
It were worth a voyage to Europe to see that picture alone. There are 
other fine pictures in the same gallery, but, with the exception of a 
Virgin and child by Murillo, and a somewhat shocking school of 
anatomy, representing a professor dissecting a dead body, I can re- 
member only the bull. 

I have also seen and heard the famous organ at Haarlaem, and truly it 
is a wonderful instrument, though not well played by the present 
organist, who gets five dollars every time it is exhibited. The vox 
humana stop, so called from its being meant to resemble the human 
voice, from the highest treble to the deepest bass, startles you with its 
life-like tones. The organ is now flourisliing much, on its former claims 
to be the largest and best in the world; but the one at York Minster is 
now the largest, and the organ at Fribourg excels in the vox humayia. 
Both are upon the whole better instruments. By the way, the ladies 
of Haarlaem are eminent for beauty. Haarlaem is throughout a 
beautiful city; and the environs, more than most of the towns of 
Holland, are delightfully arranged with woods and water where the 
people make their promenades on foot or in carriages during the 



254^ MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

summer, and in sleighs and on skates during the winter. In one of 
Washington Irving's books (the 'Tales of a Traveller, I think) you 
will find a description of the village of Broek, the cleanest place in the 
world ; no carriages can enter its streets, no one is allowed to ride a 
horse, to smoke at nights or during the day without a cover to his i)ipe 
to prevent the ashes from falling. The houses have each one grand 
parlor which is never open but for a marriage, a christening, a burial 
or some great family festival ; if the last, the front door is not opened, 
but only for the three former. It is wholly a dairy village, and the 
cows' stables are as clean as the cleanest house ; they are scrubbed with 
the greatest care, the cows themselves are rubbed down and their tails 
tied up. It being only September the cows are now in the fields, and 
the inhabitants make their summer quarters in the stables. I saw one 
family eating their dinner in a stall. The multitude of round Dutch 
cheeses, looked like a store of cannon-balls in an arsenal. The road 
to Broek is along the great ship canal cut by Napoleon from the 
Texel to Amstel, the river on which Amsterdam is situated. 
The canal is considerably lower than the sea, the road lower than the 
bank of the canal, and the farms lower than the road : a single burst of 
the dyke would flood the whole country. The churches, as to their 
appearance during service, are very strange. The Dominie preaches 
without a gown, but wears bands, in some cases a band, or rather 
the two sewed together. During the j)rayers and the singing the 
men put off their bats, but when the sermon begins they generally 
put them on. 

The collection is taken during the sermon, and in one instance they 
came round twice in succession. The prayers are extemporaneous, 
and the sermons terribly long. The ministers preach with earnestness, 
but in a pompous, heavy tone. All that I could distinctly make out 
from one of them was ' Baul and Paanabaas.' 

The great churches (like cathedrals) have a separate division for 
marriages, and one day, in Amsterdam, I had the luck of seeing a grand 
wedding. About a hundred spectators seated themselves in the pews 
along the outer pannelling encasing the marriage chapel; within was 
a separate space enclosed, a sofa placed at one end, with perhaps 
fifteen chairs on each side forming a semi-circle where the friends of 
the bride and groom took their places with most studied solemnity; 



DUTCH WEDDING. 255 

the organ played beautiful variations on dolce concenio. The minister 
ascended the pulpit, immediately in front of which was an inclined 
plane rising towards it, covered with a rich carpet; and under the pulpit 
a piece of embroidery with flowers in the centre and two most ominous 
looking dogs, not billing, but turning their heads from one anotlier, as 
if in a sort of Dutch pet. The Dominie then made a long speech to the 
bride and groom still sitting on the sofa. Then a very long prayer, and 
then he told them to ' stand oop,' and they came to the part of the plane 
where llierc were two crimson ottomans to kneel on. Here they read 
from the book for some time, and exchanged vows without a ring. 
Then he bade them kneel, and the groom, who had been standing on the 
left of the bride, changed places wath her, and knelt on her right, she 
kneeling also; then a long prayer again, and the benediction, after 
which the two sextons, Avho had been standing on each side under the 
pulpit, each advanced with a huge tin box, looking like half of a small 
mill-stone, and presented it to the bride and groom for their presents, 
then to the friends, and then took their station at the door to try from 
all the company, getting from me the magnificent sum of ' ein stuyver,' 
almost two and a half cents. 

During the whole service there was neither a smile nor a tear, and 
the Dominie appeared to be going through a burial service, his tones 
expressive of sorrow rather than joy, and the organ wound up with 
* old Hundred.' The groom was a Count something, perhaps fifty years 
old, and the bride an old maid of forty, so that ' old Hundred ' was very 
much in place. She was dressed with a while lace hat, a splendid 
cashmere shawl of a white ground, a richly-figured pearl-colored silk 
with a flounce of lace a foot broad. My man told me that there was a 
breakfast set out in a room adjoining the church, and that the groom 
must have spent on the organist, tlie Dominie, the attendants, and the 
breakfast at least a thousand guilders ($415); but added he, Madame 
a beaucoup d'argent.' He says that the Dominie was so long about it 
because he was well paid, but that he would marry thirty poor couple ia 
a quarter of the time. It is certainly a formidable business to ^et 
married in Holland. 

You would be much amused with the costume and habits of the work- 
ing wom.en. They all wear short gowns and petticoats, and white cap with 
a broad frill, and most of tliem adorn their heads with plates of silver, 
and more often of gold, with a variety of chains and pendents. These 



256 MEMOIK OF GEO. W. BETHUNE. D. D. 

ornaments are handed down as heirlooms, and are sometimes of great 
value. The women in this city carry burdens in baskets suspended 
from their shoulders, by such yokes as the milkmen in New York used 
to carry their cans, and when a little hurried they have the most funny 
swing from one side to the other, for all the world like a fashionable 
lady's wriggle. You cannot tell, from behind, a young girl from an old 
woman, for they are as alike in waists as they are in dress, and often 
w^hen you think you are passing some overgrown grandmother, the fair, 
rosy face, and laughing eyes of sixteen, turn upon you. Their child- 
liood certainly runs to waist, and the multitude of their balloon-like 
petticoats, put to shame all the exaggeration of abustling world." 

"Bremen, Sept. 11, 1850. 

I have visited the only curiosity in this place worth seeing. On the 
market-place stands an old and beautiful building, the Rathhaiis or 
Senate House, the freizes of which, in front, are sculptured with emblem- 
atical devices of Christian and Pagan Mythology strangely inter- 
mingled, and at the side there are statues of princes, and an emperor. 
In the market-place, front of it, stands a statue of Roland, eighteen feet 
high, the date of which I could not ascertain, but it is emblematical of 
the power which the senate of this little state of Bremen (about 60,000 
souls) once claimed as a free city, and still professes to claim in a con- 
siderable degree. 

It has been the pride of the senate to preserve, in a deep cellar under 
the Rathhaus, quantities of Rhine wine, some of which has attained a 
great age ; huge casks full are ranged throughout the cellar, but in one 
chamber there are twelve casks marked with the name of the twelve 
Apostles, the wine of Judas being the best, because wine is treacherous. 
Another chamber is called the Rose, from a huge rose being painted on 
the ceiling, with an inscription in Latin, to the effect, that *as without 
love the joys of wine were imperfect, and without wine Venus herself 
would grow cold, so the Rose of Venus should preside over the 
treasures of Bacchus.' I drank from curiosity a glass of the wine 
(Rudesheimer) which bore the most ancient date 1625, 224 years old, 
but the wine of 18-16 pleases my palate better." 

" Hamburg Sept. 22, 1850. 

In the afternoon I came to Hanover by the railroad. It is a pretty 
town, but without much to attract a stranger, but I had the great 



HAMBURG AND DRESDEN. 257 

satisfaction of seeing and hearing the people mob Haynau, the Austrian 
butcher of the Hungarians. You will have seen in the papers an 
account of liis being mobbed in London, when he went to see Barclay's 
brewery; he had been in Hanover two weeks before and was not 
disturbed, but received attentions from the King; after his affair in 
London, he fled to Hanover, and the people, excited by the news from 
London, rose in a crowd, drove him from the theatre and endangered 
his life, so that, escorted by the police at five o'clock this morning, he 
fled to Hesse Cassel, where he will probably have no better fate. It 
serves him right, the wretch that flogged women ! 

Hamburg, in the quarter where I am lodging is very beautiful. The 
Alster, a small river, is led into a large basin perhaps five hundred 
yards wide, forming a square, along the sides of which are many hand- 
some houses built after the great fire in 1842. As I look out from my 
high window I see the clear water, brilliant with the reflection of a 
thousand lights, and with boats on the surface, freighted with gay 
parties, music from the pavilion on the further side sweeping down on 
the gentle wind, and such music as only a German band or orchestra 
can make. It is also very amusing to see the pretty Vrieland girls in a 
picturesque costume, a round hat turned up broadly at the sides, so as to 
make them liigher than the crown, a laced boddice of some gay color, 
and very short petticoats setting off their trim legs in deep red stockings 
to great advantage: they are the Vrielanders, the market-people 
of Hamburgh. The servant-maids are also objects of curiosity, for it is 
a pride of theirs, and of the families with whom they live, to dress very 
showily ; and they carry a box under their arms to contain the articles 
sent by them, which is always covered by a neat shawl." 

" Dresden. 
I went to Leipsic. Half a day was enough to exhaust all that was 
really curious in that town, which has its celebrity from its trade, and a 
great battle once fought near it, and yesterday, at four p. m., I arrived 
here. Last evening the moon shone brightly, and I made the best of it 
in rambling over the town. To-day I have spent entirely in the 
palace, which is crowded with precious curiosities, and in the glorious 
picture-gallery. In the last I hope to spend to-morrow, perhaps part 
of Monday. It far exceeds the gallery at Berlin, excellent as that is. 
I promised myself to give you some account of w^hat is to be seen in 
Berlin, yet scarcely know where to begin or where to end. There is no 
17 



258 MEMOIR OF GEO. AV. BETIIUIsE, D. D. 

describing a picture — llo^v can the words of a pen give the exquisite 
sentiment of Carlo Dolci, the serene holiness of Raphael, the coloring 
of Rubens, the shadows of Rembrandt, the grace of Correggio, or the 
natural truth of Gerard ? 

Yet upon all these and many other very eminent masters, with some 
admirable IMurillos and Claudes, I feasted myself until I was delirious 
with delight, intoxicated to confusion with enjoyment. Of course I shall 
remember comparatively few, but those few can never be forgotten. 
Among those noted, I was particularly struck by ' The angel opening 
the door of Peter's dungeon.' It is large, the figures the size of life; 
light streams in from the opened door upon the form and face of Peter, 
who is awaking with a mixed expression of surprise and confusion, yet 
no timidity; a holy joy in his mission beams from the angel's counte- 
nance as he beckons the apostle forth. It is by Gerardo del Notti. 
There is also a large landscape by Salvator Rosa, finer than anything I 
have ever seen of that artist. But I am out of patience with myself for 
attempting to describe my impressions in that gallery, and I shall cease. 
There is however, a monument by a modern sculptor, l^auch, at 
Charlottenburgh which alone is worth going a thousand miles to see. It 
is of the late Queen of Prussia and her husband the King. It is placed 
within a little Doric temple, in a retired part of the gardens about the 
little palace at Charlottenburgh. The light is most admirably managed, 
being let in from windows near the roof; some blue panes in the 
porch soften the light from the interior, so as to give the sculpture 
the very best advantage. The King and Queen each recline upon a 
Grecian couch, the couches being perhaps six feet apart. He is clothed 
in his uniform, his cloak thrown loosely around him, hiding the stifihess 
of our modern costume, his head is bare, and he lies as tranquilly as if 
reposing after fatigue. His countenance is most life-like and serene ; but 
the figure of the Queen so absorbed me that I had little time for the 
King's, fine as it is. She was in life eminently beautiful and eminently 
good. The sculptor (except that he has made both statues one foot 
larger than life,) has represented her as she was. She lies with her 
face upwards, a face of Avonderful loveliness and, even in sleep, full of 
sweet, pious gentleness. Her form is exquisite in proportion, and 
is draped in a simple night-dress, the arms bare, but otherwise covered 
to the neck. Her lower limbs are crossed, and her hands laid meekly, 



BERLIN. 259 

but most naturally, upon her bosom. So naturally is the drapery 
wrought, that, at a little distance I could not distinguish (at first) 
between the marble and the white cloth Avhich the attendant had removed 
on our coming in, and rolled up at the foot. On each side of the statues 
is a rich candelabrum with figures around the shaft, one representing the 
Graces, the other the Fates, the countenances of each expressive of 
grief. All around the freize of the temple are texts of Scripture (in 
German) very well chosen, and above a little altar-shaped table, is a 
fresco representing the Saviour on a throne, and the deceased King and 
Queen kneeling, and laying down their crowns at his feet, — the in- 
scription — *I am the Lord, and besides rac, there is none else.' 
Rarely, I may say never, have I had a deeper impression made upon me 
than by the whole monument, especially the figure of the Queen. I was 
silent for an hour after I left the building, following my guide about the 
grounds almost unconsciously. 

At Leipsic I saw the church from Avliich Luther thundered. The 
church has been altered Avithin a few years past, but the pulpit is sa- 
credly preserved in a little closet by itself. It is nearly round in 
shape with some carving of a poor kind. I also drank a glass of 
Rhine wine in the cellar where Goethe laid part of the scene of his 
Faust, and where Faust and, afterwards, Goethe himself, had ' kept it 
up.-' 

"Berlix. 
At the great church here I attended service after the Lutheran 
method, and listened to an exceedingly eloquent man. Of course I 
could not make out all he said, but could see and feel that he was 
most eloquent. His delivery was so good as to be a perfect study. 
The congregation sung one or two German chorals extremely well, and 
a choir of men and bovs chanted well, while the or^an was mairnifi- 
cently played. On my way home I looked into another church and 
saw a baptism. I was too late for the service of the EngHsh Chapel, 
indeed, I prefer attending worship with the people of the town I am 
in. It widens one's heart to worship with strangers the God and 
Saviour we worship at home. The people have at least the appear- 
ance of devotion, and it is not for us to judge the heart. How could I 
doubt the earnest, solemn, rapt faces which were upturned to catch 
the preacher's words, or bowed down in prayer; afterwards beam- 



260 MEMOIU OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

ing with fervor as they joined in a grand chorus of two thousarid 
voices. The rest of the Sabbath is a holiday, as you know, on the 
Continent rather than a holy day, and it pained me to think that the 
impressions made by the sermon of the morning were to be effaced by 
the amusements of the evening. Far sweeter are our cjuiet Sabbath 
evenings at home, and far better for the people. I must however say 
for Berlin that externally it is one of the best-regulated cities I have 
ever seen. The hack carriages, porters, and even the hotels are 
under a very strict and just system, so that one who knows the rules 
need never be cheated. After ten o'clock at night the streets are 
almost deserted and no impropriety of any kind permitted. As yet I 
am unprepared to give you any description of what I have seen. Six 
hours w^ere consumed at Potsdam, the summer residence of the king, 
where there are several palaces, among them the famous San Soitci, 
built by Frederick the Great to shew that after all the cost of the 
Seven Years' Wai% he was still very well provided with money. The 
grounds were very extensive. I must have driven and walked miles 
upon miles through them. They are crowded with statues and 
fountains and parterres of rich flowers, showing that enormous 
wealth has been lavished upon them, though often in bad taste." 

"Prague. 
I was greatly delighted with Dresden. As a city it is not well 
built, but beautifully situated, and after the monotonous flat countries 
I have been in for weeks, the hills which encircled it, the sides of 
which are mostly covered with vineyards, had quite a refreshing look. 
But the charm of Dresden is its picture-gallery. There is, to be sure, 
in a range of apartments connected with the palace (called the 
Green Vaults), an immense collection of precious things, gold plate, 
jewels, and articles of curious, costly workmanship ; and in another pal- 
ace a very precious and most extensive collection of porcelain, Chinese, 
Japanese and European ; in fact, a complete history of earthen-ware in 
the ware itself, near which is a small collection of antique sculpture 
&c. All this ] went through, besides looking at the curiosities of the 
Royal Library and the rooms of the palace, yet I consider the time 
spent among these as more than lost, as it diminished my time of en- 
joyment in the gallery. The gallery is an extensive but mean 
building, yet within it are rich treasures, perhaps the richest out of 
Italy. First among the foremost is the Madonna of Raphael, called 



THE ST. siSTixr: madonna. 261 

the St. SIstinc from the Pope, who is represented in it. It is very 
large and the figures of colossal size. The Virgin, holding in her arms 
the divine child, has descended upon a fleecy cloud, appearing to 
Pope Sixtus, who kneels on her right, and St. Barbara, Avho kneels on 
her left. The Pope, gazing up on his heavenly visitants, represents 
the adoration of high intellectual faith. St. Barbara, turning her 
head away, as it were, from the glory of the Presence, gives the ideal 
of humble reverence. The figures of the Pope and Barbara are won- 
derfully fine, and either alone would be a master-piece of art. At 
the foot of the picture are two little cherubims or angels looking up 
v/ilh beautiful rapture, and they are justly considered exquisite in 
character and glow, but the charm of the picture, besides its beautiful 
harmony, is the Virgin herself. Her feet scarcely rest even on the 
cloud. She floats in air ; her position is upright, the child sitting up- 
on her right arm. The child I do not entirely like. It is impossible 
for art to represent Deity incarnate as a child, even more so than as a 
man. Here Raphael in striving to give dignity has given rather stern- 
ness ; but, oh ! the face of the Virgin. There is nothing to my eye so 
lovely upon canvas ; far before the Madonna of the chair at Flor- 
ence. I have gazed upon it for hours, and shall carry it away upon 
my heart. That picture is really worth my whole journey. Besides 
the Madonna, there are many gems, five or six favourites. Here is 
the Magdalena of Correggio, a small picture, in which the Magdalen 
in a drapery of blue reclines on the ground reading, her head resting 
on her arm. You have often seen copies and engravings of it, but of 
course all fall short of the sweet reality. I must confess, however, 
some disappointment; delighted as I was, it did not come up to my 
expectations. Here is also the Adoration of the Shepherds by Cor- 
reggio, a large picture, in vdiich the light mainly comes from the 
child, though the morning has broke, and the early dawn with the 
supernatural light mingle together in a wonderful manner. You re- 
member the same subject by Gerard at Florence ; this is a finer 
picture in the judgment of artists, but the one at Florence comes very 
near to it in my judgment. Here are also two heads of our Saviour 
by Guldo Reni ; the one representing him breaking the bread, the 
other covered with thorns ; both very, very admirable. There are 
several other Guides, as well as Correggios ; a St. Cecilia, and the 
girl with John the Baptist's head in a charger, both ranked very high. 



262 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

Caracci has here a head of our Saviour which is most divine, and 
there is a capital Murillo, a Virgin and child, with that star-like char- 
acter so peculiar to him. There is a profusion of Titians, Rerabrandts, 
Rubens, Gerard, Douws, Synders and Potters, besides countless 
others of inferior note (the catalogue was over 1000 ! !) . One of the 
Douws is the sweetest, if not the best, of all his I have seen. It is a 
sweet-faced girl holding a candle out of a window in a dark night to 
pluck a bunch of grapes. His famous cat is here, a grey pussy sitting 
on a window-sill so tranquilly that you can almost hear her purr. A 
landscape by Ruysdael struck me as particularly excellent. But were 
I to write a week I should not begin to finish the list of these glorious 
things. 

I had also at Dresden a great musical treat. I attended the Lutheran 
church on Sunday morning, making one of a large congregation, of 
perhaps three thousand persons. And how they did sing with all 
their lungs the noble chorals in Avhich the Germans delight ; but on my 
way home I looked into ilie (only) Catholic Church (the royal family 
arc Catholics, but jiearly all the people Protestants) and there I heard 
a mass performed in a style so grand and beautiful as to be entranc- 
ing. The music is by the Chapel Master of the king. I have secured 
a MS. copy of it and hope (D. V.) to hear some of its airs in my 
own new church at Brooklyn. 

This morning at five o'ck)ck I left Dresden for this place and have 
been enchanted all day with the scenery. The Elbe passes the whole 
way between mountains, and the scene on both sides is by turns, and 
often together, magnificent and grand ; in fact this part of Saxony is 
called Saxon Sv/itzerland, so much does it resemble the true land of 
the Swiss. There is all along a constant succession or rather contin- 
uation of views which exhaust all the terms by which we express 
admiration. ' Sublime,' ' magnificent,' ' ravishing,' ' delicious,' 
were the exclamations from those on our little deck in all languages. 
The finest view is that near the Konigsburg or Royal Citadel ; but 
there is another nearly as striking where the mountains present the 
same sinuous appearance as the Palisades on the Hudson, but in this 
superior, as, about a hundred feet from the top which rises precipitately, 
the sides sloped to the shore covered with vin^s and verdure, studded 
also with neat houses. As a whole I like it nearly as well as the 
Rhine ; and, but for the toAvering pinnacled Alps, quite as well as any 



VIENNA. 263 

part of Switzerland except the Lakes. The sun was setting as Ave 
took the rail ; but an hour after the full moon rose in sih'ering splen- 
dor and shone upon the calm river and the mountains which line its 
shores. Here, too, for the first time in Europe, I found railway cars 
after our American fashion. Everywhere else that I have been they 
use the coach-body cars, such as we rode in from London to Liver- 
pool." 

"Vienna. 

I was greatly pleased with Prague as a city, though there is not 
much besides the city itself to see. There are a few pictures in the 
Wallenstein collection, but no great things. The city, however, is 
very finely situated in a basin surrounded by hills along which are 
old fortifications and walls ; and the view from one of the hills which 
is named after Ziska, the great general of the Reformers in that section, 
is one of the best I have ever had. I am rather disappointed in Vi- 
enna, though it is undoubtedly a very fine city, and perhaps at this 
season I do not see it to advantage. The streets are narrow and the 
squares mean, the best houses being in the suburbs of the city. 
Then there are undoubtedly some good buildings. The picture-gal- 
lery (royal) and another private collection are large, and contain 
some very good things. There is an exquisite Madonna and child by 
Raphael; one of the best Cuyps I have yet seen, and very many 
Rubens, and some of the Dutch school, of which I am not so fond as 
I am of the Italian. By the way, in coming from Prague here I fell 
in with a Hungarian, Avho told me that he had wished to go to America 
after having been compromised by the insurrection. When he found 
that I was an American, of the North, as they call us, he told his little 
girl to kiss my hand." 

" Vienna. 

1 went by railroad to Presburg (perhaps sixty-miles) which I 
reached in the dark and where my first experience of a Hungarian Inn 
was far from agreeable ; but the steam voyage down the swift Danube 
made up for my inconveniences. Not far from Presburg was the scene of 
a great battle between the Austrians and Hungarians in which the latter 
were victorious ; and about half way to Pesth is the little city of Como- 
ru whose fortress under Klapka held out to the last and was surrendered 
only upon the best terms, after the Hungarians had been everywhere 
else scattered. I had the good fortune to find several veiy a^-reeable 



264 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

fellow-passengers and my being an ' American of the North ' secured 
me some attention, partly because we are rare birds here, partly be- 
cause we showed some sympathy for the Hungarians, and partly be- 
cause they were curious to know more of our country and its insti- 
tutions. Comoru is not, as one might suppose, a fortress on a high 
rocky precipice, but on a plain, with the Danube on one side and ex- 
tensive marshes on the other. The towns and villages and farms for 
many miles still show melancholy traces of war. Austria is now com- 
pletely dominant and the Hungarians are made to feel it in various 
ways. They all spoke sadly of their country, and many said ' All is 
lost.' 

Between Comoru and Pesth the river cuts its way through a fine 
range of mountains and some have thought that the scenery was 
equal to the best part of the Khine ; but it is not so, nor is it equal to 
the Elbe from Dresden to Lobositz, though it is very fine. My win- 
dow at Pesth commanded the Danube, over which is thrown a mag- 
nificent suspension bridge, perhaps the finest in the world, and the 
old city of Buda with its mountains on the opposite sides. It so hap- 
pened that, during the night, a large steam mill on the Pesth side was 
burned to the ground, and the glow upon Buda and its rocky hills made 
the scene very grand : indeed I do not remember anything that I 
have seen (at night) so much so. My return from Pesth was very un- 
comfortable. The current of the Danube is so rapid that it requires 
twice the time to ascend that it does to descend." 

" Munich. 

Notwithstanding the storm I really enjoyed the scenery up the 
Danube to Lintz ; in some respects the storm improved it, giving a 
yet wilder grandeur to the mountain ridges, and old ruined castles 
along the shores. The environs of Passau, a little city at the junction of 
the Inn with the Danube can seldom be surpassed for beauty and va- 
riety ; while the road, for miles after leaving Passau, runs along a ridge 
between the two rivers, giving a magnificent view on either side. 
The country reminded me sometimes of Switzerland, sometimes of 
home. The houses are Swiss, but the abundance of wood and rail- 
fences, with many other things, seem like America. All the way I was 
obliged to speak German, and my German is very ridiculous. My ex- 
pectation was to reach here by midnight on Saturday, but the condi- 
tion of the roads kept me back until late on Sunday morning much to 



MU?:iCH. 265 

iny regret ; but it was impossible to stop as there was no place of 
refuge nearer than this, and our postillions compelled us to go on. 
As yet I have seen little of Munich, but enough to astonish me with 
the very great contributions to science and art made by the late king, 
who was two years ago compelled by the people to abdicate his 
throne in favor of his son, because, though an old man, he chose to 
play the fool with that famous harpy, Lola Montez. Every part of 
the city is crowded with monuments of his magnificent patronage of art. 
Besides two very large and splendid churches, one built in honor of 
his patron Saint Louis, the other to commemorate the fiftieth year of 
Lis marriage (called by the Germans, the golden wedding), he has 
caused to be erected a very large building for sculptures, another for 
pictures, another for an agricultural museum, another for the library, 
the second in size in the world, another for the University, another 
for a blind asylum, besides three palaces, triumphal arches, statues &c. 
&c., &c. Xo one of these buildings, except the Blind Asylum, could 
have cost less than a million of dollars, some of thera must have cost 
much more. The Sculpture Gallery in its interior is the most beauti- 
ful building I have ever seen ; paved throughout with tessellated mar- 
ble, and each hall or room of a different pattern, adorned with fresco 
paintings and stored with most precious monuments of ancient and 
modern sculpture. The new palace contains a series of rooms dec- 
orated in the most lavish style with frescoes and guilt bronze statues 
and golden ornaments, and an entrance and staircase so splendid as to 
seem like a dream of Oriental romance; though scarcely so beautiful, 
and not so grand, as the staircase of his new library. Besides the 
churches he has built entirely, he has given the stained glass windows, 
nineteen in number, to a new church in the suburbs, which represent 
the history of the Virgin Mary, and I may safely say there are no 
windows in the world like them. To-morrow, should the weather 
prove fine, there will be inaugurated with appropriate ceremonies the 
statue of Bavaria in bronze, sixty-one feet high, the head of which 
contains seats for eight people : it is placed between two beautiful 
temples, each adorned with columns and sculpture in a lavish manner. 
All these edifices are in pure taste of different orders, but chiefly 
Greek. The entire expense must have been enormous. I have not 
yet been in the picture-gallery, having spent the day in the sculpture 
gallery ,^ the palaces and the churches. To-morrow I devote to the 
paintings. 



266 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

" COKSTANCE. 

I wrote you that there had been erected a bronze statue of Bavaria 
at Munich, sixty-one feet high ; on "Wednesday (the ceremony hav- 
ing- been several times postponed on account of the weather) the statue 
was displayed to the people, and it was the occasion of a great fete. 
As it was erected by tlie ci-devant King Louis, who was compelled to 
abdicate, the present king, his son, did not appear, but gave up the 
honor of the day to the old man. The ceremony took place on an 
immense parade ground outside the city, and at least 20,000 people 
were present. A gay pavilion was erected for the royal party, and I 
pushed through the crowd, until I got pretty near them. There was 
a long procession of the several trades, each bringing some appropriate 
contribution ; the military and civil bands playing all the while as 
only a German band can play. 

Before the statue there was a screen of boards completely hiding it 
from view; when, after a burst of delicious music from the band, at a 
sio-nal given, the screen fell down and the beautiful creation of genius 
and taste stood before the multitude, who were silent in admiration 
perhaps half a minute before they broke out in thundering cheers. 
Then a short oration was pronounced, and several hundred men's 
voices sang, accompanied by the band, an ode in honor of the oc- 
casion. The whole affair lasted three hours, but was well worth the 
fatigue it cost me. The figure represents a young maiden, draped in 
a bear skin, with a wreath of vine leaves and wheat ears around her 
head, a sheathed sword in one hand and a wreath of victory held 
aloft in the other. Nowithstanding the immense size, the coun- 
tenance is lovely, youthful and mild ; perhaps the proportions of the 
form are a little too large, but the artist's design was to represent 
Bavaria strong, The artist, Swanthaler, did not live to see his work 
triumphant. His bust was borne in the procession with a guard of 
honor." 

''London. 

It is at Antwerp that you see the very best works of Rubens, together 
with some capital specimens of other, and older, Flemish masters. There 
are especially, three pictures of Rubens, the Crucifixion, the Descent 
from the Cross, and another Crucifixion (called, Christ between the 
Thieves), which will remain in my memory as long as I live. The 
Cathedral at Antwerp disappointed me, after those I had seen elsewhere. 



THE CHURCH ON THE HEIGHTS. 267 

Ghent is full of historical associations, and the streets, in many parts, 
retain their antique appearance, so that it was not difficult to realize 
that you were moving about the scenes where once figured the Van Ar- 
tevelds and the other brave men of Ghent. The same is true, though in 
a less degree, of Bruges and you may imagine what pleasure I had, fond 
as I am of Netherlandish liistory, in going over the ground already so 
familiar to me. 

There are also some very nice old pictures by some Dutch, or rather 
Flemish masters, whom I know but little of. Then it is no wonder that 
I allowed one mail train after another to slip by, leaving me behind, 
especially, as I care very little for England." 

Meanwhile, the new church edifice approached comple- 
tion. It was a massive structure, very rich in interior 
adornment, admirably located, and will ever remain the best 
monument to its accomplished pastor. Erected by Lefevre, 
it was everything that could be desired in point of beauty, 
but its cost far exceeded the original estimates. A parson- 
age, according to Dr. Bethune's plan, was also erected by 
the aid of some friends ; so connected with the church 
that Mrs. Bethune, from her invalid couch, might hear and 
take part in the service. The name assumed by the corpo- 
ration was, The Church on the Heights. The regular call 
for Dr. Bethune is dated, Nov. 25, 1851. It must have 
been the triumph of ministeral success when this most 
beautiful temple was completed and he was permitted to 
dedicate it with the solemn service of his Liturgy to the 
Triune God. At once it took a front rank in the city of 
churches. Before this settlement was effected, another 
very inviting proposition had been made to him. 

C. Van Rensselaer to Dr. Bethune. 

*' PuiLADELPHiA, April 16, 1850. 
Mr Dear Doctor : My views as to the man who ought to be Chan- 



268 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

cellor of the N. Y. Uniyersity are unchanged, that is to say confirmed. 
Providence has now opened the way for his inauguration, which I have 
no doubt will take place about the time of * Commencement.' If your 
friends bring forward your name, the appointment will be nearly if not 
quite, unanimous. No Episcopal layman will stand the shadow of a 
chance. Whatever influence, however diminutive, I may have with 
anybody, shall be cheerfully and dutifully given in the right direction. 
I am, yours sincerely, 

COUKTLANDT VaN ReNSSELAEK." 

This election, as Chancellor of the New York University, 

took place. The office was one of high honor, and affording 

a grand opportunity of cultivating his literary tastes. The 

students, hearing of the choice, had been in front of his hotel 

cheering him for some time ; but the same evening came the 

committee from the church in Brooklyn, and he who had 

promised to preach the Gospel had no difficulty in making 

his choice. 

"New York, April 22, 1850. 
Charles Butler, Esq., 

President of the Council of the New York University. 
My Dear Sir : Having learned that I have been named in connection 
with the vacant chancellorship of your Institution, by gentlemen for the 
honor and kindness of whose preference I am deeply grateful, it is due 
to the Council and myself that I should express my desire not to be con- 
sidered as a candidate for this office. Yours very truly, 

Geo. W. Bethune." 

" Hotel St. Dekis, Dec. 4, 1852. 

The Rev. Dr. Bethune's compliments to Mr. Ullman, and begs 
to say, that the enclosed tickets for Madame Sontag's concert of last 
evening, did not reach him until this morning. 

Dr. Bethune has also to acknowledge a very courteous invitation, also 
enclosed, to Madame Sontag's rehearsal on Saturday morning last, with 
a polite offer of tickets for any of Madame Sontag's concerts. 

In declining these invitations. Dr. Bethune only obeys a rule he has 



LAST LETTER OF MRS. J. BETHUNE. 269 

laid down for himself, never to accept gratuitous favors, which he can- 
not hope in any way to reciprocate. 

Dr. Betliune has been delighted in listening to Madame Sontag, and 
hopes to have the same high gratification when the concerts come on 
his disengaged evenings ; but he must he permitted to go in on the same 
footing Avith the vast multitude, and contribute his mite to the aggregate 
return of a grateful public for the very remarkable enjoyment Madam 
Sontag's visit has brought to us here ; a return which he hopes may be, 
if possible, as great as the amiable talent which calls it forth. Mr. 
Ullraan will, therefore, pardon the request that Dr. Bethune's name may 
be left oflP the free list altogether." 

Dr. Bethune to Mrs. J. Bethune. "Boston, Feb. 1, 1850. 

My Beloved Mother : I have come here from Providence this 
morning, and have had my heart full of you, remembering that this is 
your birthday. Dearest mother, how thankful I am to God for sparing 
you to me, and to so much usefulness so long. Of all my blessings 
next to those of the Gospel, I have always reckoned your prayers and 
counsels and cares for me, among the chiefest. Repay you I never 
can. Would that I could do more towards it ; but dear mother, you 
know the deep, grateful, devoted affection, of your ever affectionate 
son, George." 

The foUowiDg is the last of Mrs. Joanna Bethune^s let- 
ters to her son ; the excellent and noble lady's hand has be- 
come very tremulous, but her love is as strong as ever : 

" Nov. 15, 1852. 
My Beloved Son : George McCartee mentioned at breakfast that 
you proposed returning to the city this week. Now, my dear, I think 
you had better delay it till the first of the week; you certainly could not 
preach, or ought not, and the first of the week will be time enough. I 
need not say how happy I will be to have you with me, but your health 
is most to be attended to. lam pretty well, and so is George. With 
love and respect to all with you, dear, dear son, 

Your affectionate mother, 

J. Bethune." 



270 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

Soon after this time Mrs. Bethiuie's brain softened, but 
her son remained ever her faithful and tender guardian. 

This seems a suitable place to say a few words of the 
lectures, which our pastor was so often called to deliver 
before learned bodies, or popular assemblages. His Phila- 
delphia congregation had spoken with pride and satisfac- 
tion of their pastor, as one who not only faithfully minis- 
tered unto them, but went forth among all people, and was 
useful every where. This was true, and had he accepted 
all the invitations urged on him, he would soon have worn 
out his health. An emphatic warning from his friend and 
physician. Dr. Dunglison, caused him to be wise in time. 
On one occasion he was asked to abate his price in regard 
to the poor people of a country village. He writes in 
reply : 

" My Dear Sir : I regret being obliged to explain my note of the 
6th. The invitations to lecture which I refuse, are ten times as many 
as those I accept. Lecturing is disagreeable to me. I should greatly 
prefer not to lecture at all, as it often interferes with my more sacred 
duties, besides involving a very troublesome correspondence, and other 
not slight annoyances. I am therefore compelled to adopt fixed rules, to 
avoid affronting, by any partiality (as I have friends scattered here and 
there over the country), and to get rid of as many lectures as I can. I set 
my fee at $ 50, not so much witli the purpose of getting it, as to avoid 
being asked to lecture anywhere. That ($ 50, with my expenses) is 
the fee, or rather the lowest fee I have asked in answer to every request, 
and is what I receive for every lecture I delivered this season, except 
one, which I considered myself bound to give, by a last year's promise. 
Besides, requests to lecture for charitable purposes, are sufficiently nu- 
merous to keep me doing nothing else in lecturing, did I comply with 
them all. It is sometimes the poor, sometimes a church, sometimes a 
parsonage, etc., so that were I to deviate from my rule for one, I must for 
all, and, therefore, I do it for none. 

The fees I get for lecturing, enable me to do many acts of charity, 



lecturers' fees. 271 

such that I could not otherwise, and the demands on ray purse by the 
poor of Brooklyn, are quite as heavy, I doubt not, as those of the poor 
at Belleville on yours. 

Another thing : where I am known, nobody will suspect me of being 
under the pecuniary necessity, or of having the disposition, to drive a 
bargain in such matters ; but I think it the more my duty, as I shall 
not be suspected of mercenary motives, to contend for the right of in- 
tellectual labour to its reward. You would not think it right to ask a 
trader or a mechanic, to give fifty per cent, off his price, to the poor of 
your place. You could make your poor very comfortable without going 
out of your town, at that rate. Now think of it, my dear sir, have 
you a right to ask Dr. D. or myself, or any one else, to do so, be- 
cause our labour is intellectual, and not manual? I think of my breth- 
ren far more than of myself in this matter, for most cheerfully would I 
lecture at Belleville, for no other reward than the pleasure of obliging 
my friends, if I could do so, as I said in my former note, ' consistently .* 
In town, where they have had any experience of lectures, in New England, 
especially, they have given over connecting cliaritablc purposes with 
their causes, at least so far as the pay of the lecturer is concerned. If 
money is needed for any town purpose, it would be more easy for each 
one to pay double for his ticket, than to take half from the lecturer's 
fee. 

I have been thus explicit, that you may see clearly the reasons of my 
former note. My lecture is not in any case worth what I ask ; but the 
trouble it costs me is worth more at a fair rate. 

And now my dear sir, having explained myself, I must ask you to re- 
lieve me from my contingent promise to lecture at Belleville this season. 
I cannot deviate from my rule, but, at the same time, I cannot think of 
burdening a charitable purpose by demands of money for myself. 

At some other time, when my mind is clearer, and my friends desire 
it, I may have the opportunity of serving them at Belleville, but not 
now." 

A friend of Dr. Bethune, who, like the rest, puts in his 
plea for a lecture or address, has the thoughtfulness to say, 
" It must be no small task upon you merel}^ to reply to ap- 
plications of a particular nature, especially at this season 



272 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

of preparing for the Anniversaries, when Dr. Bethune is al- 
ways put down, ' to be had, if possible.' '' 

Dr. Bethune's own account of his lectures, is the best 
that can be given : 

Letter to Dr. Dunglison. "Brooklyn, Nov. 14, 1854. 

The lectures I have ready, are what are called popular, that is, sepa- 
rate lectures on miscellaneous topics ; for all the world like our quondam 
Athenian Institute lectures. Thus I have one on ' Lectures and Lectur- 
ers ' (an introductory), considering popular lectures and lecturers in an 
amusing, but I hope not unserviceable, light. Another on ' Common 
Sense,' which, by the way, is long enough for two, and a mixture of met- 
aphysics and familiar illustrations. A third on ' V/ork and Labor; the 
moral uses of the distinction between them ' ; the best of my lectures. 
Another on ' The Orator of the Present Day,' originally a Phi Beta 
Kappa oration for Brown University, inquiring into the secrets of tlie 
orator's power, &c. Another on ' Oracles,' and another blocked out, 
but not written, on Divination ; in both of which, I strike at the Spiritual- 
isms (so-called) of the present day, while I give illustrations of the 
subject itself. I shall try to write another during the winter, but am 
not sure what on. Such are the lectures I have read, one or more in a 
season, here, in New York, New Haven, &c., &c." 

These lectures were delivered all over the land, and as 
they did much to increase the reputation of the speaker, 
besides affording substantial gain, it may be interesting 
to know the subjects of those remaining unpublished : 
" The Moral Opinions of the Ancients '' ; "Socrates, Pythag- 
oras, and Plato ^' ; " Aristotle, Zeno, Epicurus '^ ; " Holland 
and the Hollanders,^' two lectures, and very popular; 
''Divination"; two lectures on "Epidemics,'' and one 
on "False Estimates." It is hoped that a due selection 
will be made for publication, as it would constitute the 
most charming volume of Dr. Bethuue's, that has seen 
the light of day. 



PLATFOliM OKATORY. 273 



I CHAPTER XI. 

PLATFORM OUATORY. 

This chapter is devoted to another specialty of Dr. Be- 
thune. If there was one point in which he outshone his 
compeers, it was in pkitform speaking ; such as was called for 
at religious anniversaries, or in the discussion of important 
public questions. His fluent oratory and quickness of rep- 
artee would have made him an invaluable member of a po- 
litical party, in either House of Congress. But he had more, 
he had a sound, practical common sense, whicli commanded 
the popular heart. Little justice can be done to this distin- 
guished trait of our minister, in the short space allotted. 
We can only present specimens that may illustrate his pow- 
er. The first that we offer is a speech made in behalf of his 
favorite Colonization scheme. His efforts in this cause were 
frequent ; probably one speech was made every year after 
his entrance into public life ; the key-note to them all is 
found in his expression " From the bottom of my heart I hate 
slavery", a feature that brought him earl^^ in his career 
into fierce conflict with a distinguished Southern agitator, 
Hon. Henry A. Wise. The speech quoted was made at 
Washington, before the American Colonization Society, Feb- 
ruar}^, 1850, Hon. Henry Clay being President. 

" I am not in the habit of making apologies when I rise to speak, 

because I tliink when one sees reason for not speaking, he should 

hold his tongue. I should be lacking both in common sense and 

common modesty did I not feel the difficulty of speaking upon a 

18 ' 



274 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

question like this, at a time when everything relating to the 
black race, coming otherwise than from a Southern man, is looked upon 
with suspicion and jealousy. Not, sir, that I would hesitate to avow ray 
own sentiments ; I would never live where I may not speak my consci- 
entious opinions, but, sir, we are upon, as you have very justly said, a 
common ground here to-night, where no advocate of this cause has a 
right to compromise the Society by the expression of any individual opin- 
ion which might clash with, or in any way seem to be antagonistic to the 
opinions of others. I had, however, this consolation, sir, in coming here. 
I knew, sir, if you will permit me to say, I knew that you would open 
this meeting with some remarks. I anticipated that they would be short, 
but falling from a mouth that never uttered a word without a meaning, 
and whose one sentence is worth, in expression and force, more than a 
hundred such as mine. 

I was very sure that principles would be advanced and established, 
behind which I might venture to speak. I have no more fear of the col- 
lision of conflicting opinions, than I should fear the spray of the ocean 
after it had dashed against the adamantine rock. It has been well said, 
sir, by yourself and the gentleman who has preceded me, that this So- 
ciety has suffered the most virulent opposition. It has been most truly 
opposed by the fanatics at the North, and the fanatics at the South. I 
call that man a fanatic, sir, who, under the influence of a perverted con- 
science, allows malignity to take the place of benevolence ; who lets him- 
self down to abuse without measure his honest and logical opponent ; and 
is not willing to listen to reasons upon the question in which all are con- 
cerned. I care not where that man lives, whether at the North or in the 
South, in the East or in the West, he is a fana.ic, and he is dangerous, 
just in proportion as he seems to himself to be conscientious, because 
his false conscience assumes the aspect, and to a certain extent, the force 
of right and duty. There is an opposite fanaticism, and the imitation of 
the fanatic by those who have not the excuse, which vents itself in loud 
words and earnest denunciations. That I fear not. The blusterer always 
has been a coward, and is not to be dreaded by the wise man. Like the 
bubble, he bursts with his own wind. 

When we began this cause, sir, or at least some time after we began 
it, after it gained sufficient strength to provoke the opposition of him who 
moves the hearts of the children of evil, we find that the Society was 



COLONIZATION SPEECH. 275 

charged with doing absolutely wrong, wrong it was said to the cause of 
the black man, because it took the free black away from the South in- 
stead of permitting him to remain like a thorn and a fester in the sides 
of those who were his brethren in bondage. This was charged against 
it. Another was that we took away the black man who had been born 
upon our soil, and who, by the arrangements of Providence who gave 
him a birth-place here, had as much right to rest himself here as you. 
We were told again, it was preposterous to talk of Christianizing the 
continent of Africa, where such instruments were to be used; the refuse, 
as was said, of the black race of the United States, Now, sir, what 
has been the consequence ? What have we seen but this very remark- 
able fact, that the same people who have opposed the Society, have 
adopted the very measures for which they impeach the Society ? As to 
the taking away the black man of the South, it is notorious that they 
are doing it in various ways. It is notorious, also sir, that they have 
endeavored to establish colonies, not exactly within the limits of the 
United States, but through their assistance, and, to a certain extent, 
liberal assistance, within the limits of the British Possessions on the 
Continent ; and, in their efforts to colonize, have moved the black man 
from the South, of which we were accused as a crime ; taking him 
away from the soil he had a right to, and moving him away to the 
North, sir, whose frosts are as hurtful to his constitution as the heats 
of the South are to those of us who are born in the North. Nay 
sir — nay gentlemen, and as I see my friends with ready pens by me, 
I beg them to remember I speak of him with respect. I honor him 
for being actuated by the very best intentions, however I might differ 
with him in the manner in which he carries them out. I speak of Mr. 
Gerrit Smith. Would to God his large heart was with us still. He 
himself has offered his acres of wild land in the coldest section of 
the State of New York for a colonization scheme. It seems then, sir, 
that tliey have acknowledged tlie truth of the classic maxim, that ' it is 
lawful to learn from an enemy,' for they have taken the first leaf out 
of our book. 

One thing, sir, we were told, we were reproached for endeavoring 
to persuade the people of the United States that Africa was the proper 
place for the black man ; that this land of Christian privileges was the 
place to which Providence, who maketh the wrath of man to praise him, 



276 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

had brought him, and here he had remained. It has been said that 
ve could not evangelize Africa through the instrumentality of such 
agents. What have they done, sir ? Do you not remember the his- 
tory of the Amistad? God in his Providence sent them to our shores, 
and these very people they sent back agtiin to Africa. Our oppo- 
nents have patterned after us, and so far as they have proceeded, their 
scheme is as much like ours as a badly managed scheme can be like 
a good one for the same purposes. 

Now here, sir, is the demonstration of it in the very mouths, in the 
hands, of our most virulent opponents at the North in favor of out 
scheme, and, sir, no doubt all the honest men there among them, will 
be with us still. We were told on the other hand at the South, by 
the fanatics there, it was preposterous to think of elevating the black 
man ; God had made him inferior ; God intended him for a servant ; 
it was flat flying in the face of Providence, to endeavor to make him 
anything else, and that he never could succeed ; his whole history in 
all the past, from time immemorial, had been that of degradation, 
slavery, ignorance and misery : sir, the history is true ; such has 
been the history of the black man, and I consider that amidst all the 
wonderful events of this remarkable century in which we live, there is 
none so remarkable as the present condition of the Republic of Liberia. 

What has been the history of the black man ! That everywhere it 
has been that of slavery, of degradation, of ignorance, even in Africa, 
in his own native land, is perfectly notorious to all who know any- 
thing of the subject. He is in the condition of a slave who holds his 
life and all that he can call dear to him, at the will of his savage, des- 
pot master ; but, sir, go back to that book which Providence, after 
the lapse of thousands of years, has opened for us. We may read there 
the records of his past history. 

Go to the monuments of Egypt and you will find there the 
black man a slave ; emphatically a slave. I believe you can scarcely 
find an instance in which he appears upon those monuments, in 
which he does not bear witli him tributes about his person, in 
token that the people from whom he comes are subject to the Pha- 
raohs of Egypt. 

It is supposed that no one can make a calculation other than that of 
a supposition. It is supposed, however, that over that vast continent 
there can be scattered not less than a hundred and fifty millions ; 



COLONIZATION SPEECU. 277 

probably when we come to penetrate into its hitherto impenetrable 
depths we shall find them to be one quarter more, judging by the 
area, and by what we know of certain portions of it very recently 
explored. 

What has Africa been ? I speak not of that section of Africa that 
was inhabited by other races. I cannot go into the romance of speak- 
ing of Egypt and its people ; its kings, its philosophers, and its 
saints. I know very well, sir, every one knows, they were under, I 
speak of that portion of Africa inhabited by the black man, the woolly- 
headed African, (laughter) and wherever he has these characteristics 
he is in the deepest degradation ; at least so far as explored. He has 
been for thousands and thousands of years so, and so far back that 
history tells us no other tale. And that gentleman who has but re- 
cently returned from Liberia, that gentleman who knows Liberia from a 
long residence, will tell you that nowhere upon the face of the earth, 
nowhere in time past or present has there existed, or does there exist, 
a superstition so base, so cruel, so horrid, so re\olting, as that which 
reigns over the minds and hearts of the native Africans. 

It is true, sir, that the African has been always degraded ; always 
been oppressed ; always been in ignorance. It might be thought, sir, 
that one who had been crushed so long, could never rise, but like that 
giant of old, of whom we read in classic fable, upon whom Etna was 
put, his breast nmst be so bruised, his limbs so paralyzed by the long 
pressure of the superincumbent weight, that he cannot erect himself 
as a man, and take any place in the way of advancement and civiliza- 
tion. But, sir, there is a light brighter than that of reason ; there is a 
happy spring from a nobler source than that of passion ; there is the 
light of religion and the light of promise shedding their rays far in 
the future. What does that religion teach him ? I know no one who 
has common sense will contend for the absolute equality of all men in 
physical strength, in intellectual, in ability to advance in the career of 
civilization. jSTo one contends for this ; I am speaking of those funda- 
mental rights every roan has, or should be acknowledged to have. 
God made the black man as well as you or me, and unless we give up 
the Bible, which is the charter of our hopes, and the ground of our 
faith, we must believe he came from the same original pair, and we are 
brethren, brethren by the fiat of the Creator. 

We cannot divorce ourselves from this fraternity, except we fling 



278 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

off the devotion of our Father who is in Heaven ; when He who 
spake as never man spoke, and who justified his sympathy with the 
poor and the rich, and gave himself to the poor, when He repeated from 
his divine lips the law of the ancient Israelites, and tells us we must 
love our neighbor as ourselves. Pie told you, sir, he told me, he tells 
all of us, that wherever a human heart beats, wherever a human heart 
glows, wherever a man stands in the image of God, there is our neigh- 
bor, whom we are bound to love as ourselves. 

I care not where he is ; whether in China, whether in Africa, or 
whether it be in America. I care not who claims rule over him ; he is 
my brother ; he is my neighbor ; I am bound to love him, and God 
will hold me accursed if I do not do this. Nay, sir, through the 
teaching of God's Holy Spirit, I am taught my sins, and that there is 
but one fountain open for sin and uncleanness. When I follow the 
guiding of the Holy Spirit, and it leads me to the foot of the cross 
whence springs a living fountain of divine blood shed for the lost, 
the unworthy and the guilty, I find kneeling at the foot of that cross, 
washing himself in that same sacred stream, as welcome to my Master 
as myself, as readily admitted into the family of God as the highest 
among the children of men ; I find the black man washed in the same 
blood with me, sanctified by the same Spirit ; adopted by the same 
God, and made heir of the same happy immortality. How dare I 
refuse, how dare I refuse him all the strength of Christian sjnnpathy 
and Christian benevolence ? I know not how, sir ; while that Bible 
lasts I must follow it ; and, sir, it is upon this principle that the So- 
ciety is acting. 

We are, as you very justly observed, united by that simple article 
of our constitution which covers him, and doubtless does cover persons 
of different notions as a detail of its workings, and gives us a right to 
differ ; makes us sovereigns in our own spheres ; while we are united 
in the great object : but, sir, I do not go too far, I am sure you will 
not refuse me permission to say, that the Colonization Society is 
the combination of the true friends of the colored race in the 
United States. I mean the friends of the black man who desire to 
see him elevated. 

Now, sir, what do we see in the year '93 and '94 ? I am not good 
at dates, sir, but, somewhere about there, the negroes of St. Domingo, 
the whole of the population of that island, or the greater part of it. 



COLONIZATION SPEECH. 279 

rose in revolt, and have endeavored to establish one ever since ; en- 
deavored to form themselves into some sort of government. What do 
we see? Take that monkey empire (laughter) that has been the 
world's laughing stock ; look at the result of their plans : Faustin 
I., with his cordon of dukes and nobles around him, so that there 
can be scarcely a private man left in his dominions (laughter). There 
is the result in one part. Compare it, sir, with the Liberian Repub- 
lic. Compare it with the enlightened, free and intellectual exercise 
of every principle and right that man can claim, moderated and held 
from excess by the wisest restraints and the most salutary arrange- 
ment. Sir, I do not believe there exists upon earth a government 
whose constitution is more liberal, more enlightened, or more judi- 
cious, having in it, we believe, the elements of greater permanence 
than the Republic of Liberia. It is, sir, the black man ; it is not the 
Avhite man ruling over him as in Sierra Leone. It is not the white man 
forcing him on as in the British "West Indies. 

jSTor is it the black man where the mixed race is flogging him and 
chaining him, as Avas done in the beginning of freedom in the West 
Indies. It is the black man governing himself, governing himself 
according to written statutes ; governing himself with an enlightened 
view of his own worth, his own dignity, his relations to his fellow-man, 
and his confidence in the power and justice of God, who loves His 
children, it were impossible to doubt it, who loves his children all 
alike, and alike vindicates his mercy by the history of that race, as well 
as our own. 

ISTow, sir, there is the reply that we make to the fanaticism of the 
South. Look at our Liberia, look at it, sir, we challenge investiga- 
tion. The ships of almost every civilized nation have touched at its 
port ; emissaries from our own country, or rather messengers, have 
gone to examine into the existing state of things, and if testimony has 
been unanimous to any nation, it is that in favor of the Republic of 
Liberia. Nay, sir, it has been more than hinted at by the eloquent 
gentleman who has preceded me. Great Britain has acknowledged 
the superiority of our scheme over her own. 

Since that, Clarkson and, by implication, Wilberforce, have been actu- 
ated against us. Tliese good men were brought into it, however, in the 
feebleness of their expiring years, at least Clarkson in his feebleness, to 
record a senticjent in opposition to our society. What has been the 



280 MEMOm OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

result? Great Britain, in one of her ablest periodicals, and by one of 
her ablest men, has declared that Sierra Leone must be abandoned; 
that it is a failure ; and with the same voice they have pointed to the 
Bepublic of Liberia, and declared it to be successful. Nay, after all the 
money that has been spent upon that very coast by Great Britain, by 
this country and others, money, sir, is but the simplest portion of the 
tribute we have given. We have sent our gallant officers to die upon 
that plague-smitten coast; many, many a family in this land, more in 
England, have been clothed in the sackcloth of bitterness from the loss 
of life wasted in good intentions, but miserable failures, to suppress the 
slave trade ; but now, sir, for seven hundred miles of the entire coast of 
that section of Africa, in a short time, from the further part of Liberia to 
Sierra Leone, this society will have destroyed the slave trade. "What 
navies could not do, and what navies with millions of cartouches and 
hundreds of cannon and thousands of men, our little republic with its 
little army and its little treasury have accomplished. 

It is probable if the white man had done it, as my friend remarked, we 
should have exulted over it, it would have been claimed as a triumph of 
the white man's superiority ; but it has not. We have nursed him, sir, 
he was a child, but now the black man is erect, tall, and as strong as a 
man, but a child in intellect, in habit, and in foresight. 

We had to nurse him ; but he is now a man. I remember well, sir, 
you remember it well, and many of us here, with what fear and trem- 
bling we ventured upon the experiment. But holy and wise men believed 
it possible, especially after the career of that glorious man, that martyr to 
this cause, whose mind and heart had a strength rarely paralleled ; I 
mean Buchanan, the last white governor of Liberia — the people 
who hear me may perhaps smile at it as an exaggeration — he was 
one of the greatest men that God ever made, in mind, in heart, or 
in appearance, — after his career, whom God sent, I am sure of it, 
God sent him to make the way for a black man to assume the reins of 
government. 

He died, sir; and at last a colored man governs the colony, and he 
governs the colony better than it was ever governed before, not 
altogether in favor of his own credit, but also to the credit of the people, 
who have been nursed into self-government. What is a Republic 
without self-government? There is that colony, and that Republic, 



COLONIZATION SPEECH. 281 

aye, sir, Republics are always longer lived than Monarchies. It is the 
history of the world, unless perhaps some of the great empires of whose 
history -we know comparatively little. But, sir, that Republic of Liberia 
will outlive every kingdom of Europe, and may not live very long either 
to do that. (Applause.) Kow, sir, I will discuss this point only for a 
moment; here is the demonstration given that the black man can 
govern himself. We have made the demonstration, sir, and it has been 
acknowledged sir, that he can govern himself. By whom, sir, have you 
stated that the Republic had been acknowledged; by whom, sir? 
would to God you had not been obliged to falter as your heart compels 
you to do. Acknowledged by Great Britain and not by us ; and why, sir? 
I am willing to give Great Britain the credit of philanthropy. I do not 
forget she has other qualities besides philanthropy ; trade, sir, she loves 
trade. What was it that gave to it its predominance ? I can trace no 
characteristic in the Anglo-Saxon that gave them more force than their 
love of trade. 

You can trace it, sir, in all the history of the Anglo-Saxon race, but it 
has been from the Republic of the Netherlands, we have learned the great 
lesson of trade, and from whose shores went the Anglo-Saxons who have 
given to England her great national characteristic, trade ! trade ! trade ! 
This is what the Anglo-Saxon conquers by and conquers for. Find me 
a spot, sir, upon the face of the earth where they have not smuggled a 
piece of their goods and merchandise. You cannot find a British port, 
but there you will find the haunt of the smuggler who is protected by 
those very forts. The far-famed Gibraltar, with its battlements and 
garrison, is little better than a smuggling port to take advantage of the 
weaker people of the Mediterranean and its neighborhood. But, sir, 
what is the case now? there is a little chance of trade open upon a 
certain coast of our own continent. It looks small as a mosquito ; but, 
sir, the hum of that mosquito has not been unheard across the broad 
Atlantic, and the queenly Victoria shakes hand by proxy, with the 
breechless young vagabond who is called the king. For what, sir? For 
trade, to make money. I do not blame them ; it is right to make money 
if you can do it honestly ; and I am sure we are the last people in this 
country, if we allow the Eastern States to belong to us, to say it is not 
right to make money. Sir, you have the motive for the acknowledgment; 
of the independence of Liberia ; I do not say that it is the only motive. 



282 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

I know of no greater mistake in morals than to suppose a man's actions 
spring from one motive. The concurrence and concentration of 
different motives bear upon the man ; some are less easily deducted 
than others, but still always a combination. 

God forbid I should question her (Great Britain's) benevolence in tlie 
acknowledgment, but I fear it was done upon the chance of penetrating 
Africa through those rivers. I fear that her excellent Governor, 
Roberts, would have gone home without his acknowledgment. Now, 
sir, I believe that we are a philanthropic people, and I believe that we 
love to make money ; but I say, sir, that the statesman who refuses to 
acknowledge the Republic of Liberia, misses greatly his duty to the 
United States and his country, as a commercial people. 

But, sir, I am trespassing upon a point which will be handled far 
more ably by my friend who has just returned from the coast of Africa. 
Therefore, sir, I leave the subject, congratulating ourselves again upon 
the great success, and congratulating no one more than yourself, to 
whose presiding skill and energy and to whose high example we owe so 
much of our success in our scheme. You contributed the noblest 
donation of all when you gave your name. But, sir, we may all in our 
little spheres rejoice. The smallest star in the firmament rejoices in the 
light that God has given it. But, sir, there are those of us here, as we 
look back to hours of conflict, who cannot say we are scarred with a 
hundred fights, because fortunately, our armor was so proved, that the 
weapons struck upon us shivered in the grasp of the hand that struck 
with all the vehemence that malignity could give. Yes, sir, we can 
remember our hours of darkness ; they were many ; but how bright is 
the future! Happy to believe we have not simply planted a little 
shrub, but a mighty tree that has been sown like a grain of mustard 
seed, which yet shall wave its branches laden with celestial blessings 
over the Continent of Africa and the millions of the colored race. In 
this connection, we cannot but rejoice that the colored man was brought 
here. 

Could he have been educated for this purpose, where, I ask you, sir, 
where could he have been educated for that career which he is now 
entering upon in Liberia, but in this land where constitutional rights are 
thoroughly understood, where the right of self-government is so clearly 
propagated, where the success of our blessed institutions has shown by 



SPEECH IN SYNOD. 283 

an irresistible demonstration that freedom is the best heritage of man?" 

To understand better Dr. Bethune's position on the ques- 
tion of Slavery, we must consider his course in the Synod 
of his own Church. In 1855 a large classis in North Car- 
olina being dissatisfied with errors in the German Church, 
asked for admission into the Dutch body. Dr. Bethune op- 
posed the proceeding". 

•*We should feel very kindly toward these brethren who have come 
to us. They are Christian men, who consider themselves to be suffer- 
ing for the sake of truth — who sympathize with us in doctrine, and 
who have paid us the high respect of asking to be united with our in- 
terest. God forbid, therefore, that one word should fall from my lips, 
or from this Synod, which should in any way wound the feehngs, or 
show disrespect to these estimable brethren. 

If the proposition was to exclude a sla,ve-holder from the commun- 
ion, I would oppose such an uncharitable and un-Christian act. I 
would rather die than own a slave, unless it were that, in accepting 
the ownership, I did it for his own good ; but I would rather die than 
allow a Christian brother to be unjustly cast out of the house of God, 
when our great Master paid the highest compliment he ever paid to a 
human being, in saying to one who was a slave-owner and a soldier, 
"I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel." But we are not 
called upon to do this. In the providence of God we have been hap- 
pily freed from this difficulty, and I think that we should remember 
what the wise man says, Avith a great deal of point : *'He that passeth 
by and meddleth with strife belonging not to him, is like one who 
taketh a dog by the ears ;" there would be a precious deal of howling. 
And so I feel in this case. Here we have not the strife among us. I 
know there has been an attempt to introduce it among us. I have 
seen with regret, movements made in some part of the Church to in- 
dorse the action of a body with whom we hold relations upon the sub- 
ject. If there be an attempt to press this matter in this body, I for 
one am ready to swing clear of the American Board of Commissioners 
of Foreign Missions, rather than one word should be uttered upon 
Slavery. I do not agree with the action of that Board, but at the 



284 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

same time I am willing to let other people have consciences on that 
subject ; but the thing is to keep it out of the house here. I believe 
that there is no man among us, unless he happens to be carried away 
by the spirit of fanaticism, that makes him forget the interests of the 
Church, who is willing to enter into a discussion of the subject on this 
floor, and I therefore hold my tongue, and do not say what I am pre- 
pared to say in other places, lest I do injustice to the feelmg of some 
brethren, and thus create discussions. 

I would not hold with a class of men who condemn every man at the 
South ; but at the same time, I would not say that any one who has a 
conscience upon the subject, different from mine, should be forced to take 
action, which, if I were in his place, I would not be willing to be forced 
into. I would say, ' Come as near to us as possible,' without saymg, 
* Come in.' If they want funds for their Seminary, for their Church ; 
if they want anything which we can do for them, let us do it. My 
idea, illustrated in other words, is this : Because our neighbor is a 
good man (for which we love him), if he has a slight taint of the small 
pox, I do not think he should be allowed to innoculate with it our 
whole Church." 

Having presented a resolution expressive of courtesy and 
kindness towards the brethren from North Carolina, but de- 
clining the union, he continued : — 

" That although he might be called a sneak and timid, yet he be- 
lieved they were not called upon to discuss the slavery question. A 
serpent was a sneak, but he remembered the advice of one of high au- 
thority, ' Be ye wise as serpents.' Some gentlemen were very 
anxious to fight lions. Let them mount their hobbys, for his part he 
did not want to fight a cat." 

The occasion was one of intense excitement, the claims of 
the Classis upon Christian sympathy were strong — it would 
have presented a grand mission field for the Dutch Church, — 
but their request was declined, and very much through the wise 
forecast of Dr. Bethuuo. Many wlio opposed him sharply 



AMERICAN TRACT SOCIETY. 285 

then as a truckler to Northern fanaticism, lived to thank 
him for his wise counsels. 

We next follow our debater to the exciting Tract Con- 
troversy, where he appears on the other side of the great 
argument. The discussion really begun in 1856, when pro- 
posals were made at the meeting of the American Tract 
Society, to print essays on the subject of slavery, a course 
v^hich would at once stop the work of the Society in the 
Southern States ; action was postponed by the appoint- 
ment of a committee who should consider the subject and 
report next year. 

In 1857 they suggested that tracts should be printed 
teaching masters their duties, and it was hoped that this 
course would satisfj^ all parties. But the Society found 
that even such tracts would incense the South, and, for the 
sake of their national position, delayed the publication. 
This inaction aroused new agitation. Parties began to 
array themselves in order ; appeals were sent to all the 
New England members for their presence, which put the 
management of the Society on the defensive, and they 
rallied their strength. At the Anti-Slavery caucus, pro- 
ceeding the meeting, Mr. Tappan said, "When my neigh- 
bor. Dr. Bethune, comes here to-morrow, and I believe he 
is coming, as he is a perfect cornucopia of fun you will 
have an abundance of it." 

The great assembly convened in the church in Lafayette 
Place, and, though none but life-members and directors 
were admitted, j^et the house was filled to its utmost 
capacitj^ Probably never in this country was there such a 
grand gathering of Christian men, absorbed in the question 
whether this great Society should be sustained or rent 
asunder, for such seemed the issue at stake. 



286 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

Dr. Magee explained the course of the Society. Bishop 
Mc'Ilvaine, with great dignit}", defended its interests. Dr. 
Tyng led the opposition, when a vote was demanded. It 
was taken amidst intense excitement. Those condemning 
the management being first called for, three hundred and 
forty-five rose ; it seemed a large number, but when the 
other side voted, it seemed as if the whole house rose en 
masse. The victory was complete. Dr. Bacon, of New 
Haven, cried, '* We give it up," Dr. Bethune replied, 
'' Yes, but we want to know how much you give it up.'^ 
There was much diflSculty in the count, but it was finally 
agreed that it was about ten to one. But the opposition 
was not vanquished. Dr. Bacon pressed the resolution of 
last year, about tracts on slavery, saying, " 1 believe that 
God governs the world ; and I don't believe, in the long 
run, the devil is to beat," and gave warning that, if defeated 
to-day, he would continue this agitation, and his children, 
and . children's children, would follow it up. When Dr. 
Bethune arose it was as the mouth-piece of the house. It 
was quite certain that the Society was sustained, the 
great interest was safe ; but the great majority needed an 
expression of their feeling, and for the intense emotion a 
great speaker was needed. Dr. B. ascended to the majesty 
of the occasion. He protested against the action of last 
year as being unaniomus. 

" We are now called upon to publish tracts on slavery, though we 
thereby shut our tracts out of fifteen States of the Union ! But the 
gentlemen come here to drive the Society into decisive and destruc- 
tive measures, and Dr. Bacon tells us that he will never give it up; 
he will pursue us, with all the little Bacons after him, from genera- 
tion to generation. (Great laughter.) Dr. Bacon also expresses 
his confidence that he and his friends will get the victory in the end, 



DR. bethune's speech. 287 

because he believes that the devil will be -whipped at last ! He 
classes us with the children of the devil. But we believe that we are 
on the side of the truth and of righteousness, that the Bible is with 
us, God is with us, and we intend to stand by the Society to the 
end. If Dr. Bacon is a life-memher, so are we, and whenever he 
comes to agitate this subject he will find us here. And before this 
Society shall pervert its sacred trust to the publication of abolition 
tracts, we will carry the question through every Court in the land. 
(Great applause.) The gentleman from Ncav Haven, Dr. Bacon, 
asks if the moral law is abrogated by slavery ? if adultery is not 
adultery at the South ? I answer by asking if adultery is any worse 
south of Mason and Dixon's line than it is north of it ? Is sin any 
worse in a black man than a white man ? And as to this particular 
sin, I sa;y, ' let him that is without sin, cast the first stone.' No one 
can doubt about the evangelical origin of that sentiment. This 
exhibits the difference between the views of the gentlemen on the 
other side and ours. We wish to publish tracts against sin, all sin ; 
to rebuke and oppose it ; but we see no reason for treating covetous- 
ness, or licentiousness, or oppression, as worse in one part of the 
country than in another. 

We are united as a Society, not merely in a charter, but in a 
trust ; we have given our money, our fathers have given their money, 
and we have exerted our various talents for the upbuilding of this 
institution. Our money is between every brick. Yes, it is the very 
mortar which holds the bricks together. It is distributed through all 
the stereotype plates, in all the presses of the Society. It is in more 
than this ; it is in the glorious system of evangelical operations which 
this Society has inaugurated, and still maintains. We stand where 
our fathers placed us ; and it is my privilege to remember the day on 
which this Society was begun. I remember it well ; and it has been 
dear to my heart ever since. It is yet sacred in my thoughts, that 
the life of my grandmother, Isabella Graham, the greatest treasure 
which our family ever had — one of the treasures which the church 
of God esteems the most precious — we committed to this Tract 
Society ; we have given money, my father before me, all of us have 
given money ; but what is money to a gift like that ? 

What are we to print but tracts for circulation, for the dissemina- 
tion of evangelical religion and sound morals, that are 'calculated to 



288 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

meet the approbation of all evangelical Christians?' When, there- 
fore, Christians who in the judgment of charity can be called evangel- 
ical, say that a tract must not be printed, I hold, according to the 
sacredness of the compact, according to the fidelity of the trust, that 
that tract ought not to be printed. 

Sir, it is something to get funds, it Is something to have auxilia- 
ries and supporters ; but I tell you what is better than funds, and 
better than auxiliaries, it is a field where we can work. Here, at the 
thickly settled Xorth, abounding in churches, where every man lives 
within the sound of the Gospel, — in the free North, where are institu- 
tions cultivating religion and virtue by their various influences, — in 
the favored North, where we have so many institutions of learning, 
and so many religious advantages, this Tract Society is not so much 
needed. We have other powerful means to enlighten and evangelize ; 
but we see at the South ten millions of immortal sou^s. What shall 
we do for them ? We care not whether they are black or white per- 
sons who have these souls. I only know three things : that these 
souls are immortal ; that they are sinful ; and that Christ who died 
for me, died for them. And, sir, what I want to do through this 
Society is, to send the precious Gospel there, and I wish to clog its 
progress with no difficulties." 

He believed in the certain emancipation of the slaves in 
the United States, not only from his confidence in the 
triumph of Christianity, but from his confidence in our polit- 
ical institutions and the predominance of fre^ labor. These 
men are to be free, and he wanted to know in what moral 
condition they are to be free ? He wanted to prepare them 
for that great advent of freedom. He wanted to prepare 
them to take their place where they ought to be, by the 
side of the white man. 

" I go for sending the tract with the Gospel, and I go for it for this 
reason : because I believe that, according to the philosophy of our 
blessed religion, mankind must be changed from within ; and that no 
external appliances are ever going to bring about the reformation of 



THE FREEDOM OF THE GOSFEL. 289 

men. I do not believe the doctrine of the infidel ' Westminster/ that 
morals must precede missions which carry the Gospel. The evangeli- 
cal method is, to send the doctrine of Jesus Christ and him crucified, 
first, that is, the Gospel. Preach it to black men, preach it to white 
men. This is what we want. There are slaves there suffering in 
body and soul ; slaves who have none of the comforts that we have 
in this world. Sir, I wish to make them freemen of the Lord. I 
care not, comparatively, whether they be bond or free, whether they 
be Jew or Gentile, whether they be Barbarian or Greek ; if they are 
saved by faith in the blood of Jesus, this world matters little. There 
is heaven, eternal heaven, when their brief sorrows are over; and it 
is because this Gospel is my comfort, that I want to send it to the 
poorest negro of the South. 

I recognize no difference between my black brother and mvself. 
Born of the same nature, drawing hope from the same Christ, lying 
down alike in the grave, and hoping for one home in heaven, he is my 
brother. None shall divorce him from me. I am his keeper; but 
the greatest blessing God bids me bestow upon my neighbor is to love 
my neighbor as myself, and of all things in this world — liberty, 
riches, learning, friends, — I would say, give me Christ, give me 
Christ. Take riches, honor, friends, liberty, life, but give me Christ; 
let me know that my Redeemer liveth ; let Christ be in me the hope 
of glory everlasting. And because I love Christ best for myself, I 
would give Christ to the black man, and I would send a knowledge 
of Christ to the black man in the tracts of this Society. So do I turn 
away from every plan which shall hinder the full and free operation 
of this Society over that vast South. Hinder us not, hinder us not. 
The way is gi-eat, we have a mighty work to do. Souls, immortal 
souls, are going down to death, whom we are bound to rescue. 
Hinder us not. ^Ye cannot forsake the South. I do not mean the 
institutions of the South. I mean the slaves of the South, the masters 
of the South, all the sinners of the South. God, Jehovah, in whom 
we trust, has put the obligation upon our consciences. We cannot 
turn aside. * God is our refuge, and our strength ; therefore will we 
not fear, though the earth be removed, though the mountains thereof 
be carried into the midst of the sea.' " 

His position on the slavery question is thus clearly de- 
19 



290 IVIEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

fined : opposed to it with all his heart, holding that 
slavery was a "crime/' desirous to avoid all connection with 
it, yet he would select the most prudent course to alleviate 
its sorrows and prepare the way for freedom. 

We insert here, as bearing directly upon this point, a let- 
ter to Mr. John Brydon, Edinburgh, dated Newburgh-on- 
the-Hudson, July, 1853. The opinions entertained were of 
course modified, though not changed, by the political events 
of seven years later. 

" My Dear Sir : — I cannot retract what I said of Mrs. Stowe, and 
as I am little accustomed to mould my opinions, except from my own 
convictions, you must believe, though I may lose somewhat of your 
favor, that they are from my own mind and not from without. Of the 
system of slavery, I think as badly as you can. Nothing would tempt 
me to share in its common evi4 ; but I cannot approve of the gross 
misrepresentations of Mrs. Stowe's book, which show the clergy of 
this country in the worst possible light, and studiously avoid allusions 
to the many palliating circumstances which a Christian charity should 
duly consider. My observation of the South has been large. I have 
personally labored among the slaves as a preacher, and been an eye- 
witness of sacrifices and pains on the part of good people for those 
who, not by choice of theirs, had been put under them. 

The evidence in Mrs. Stowe's second book is very shocking ; but if 
a like attempt were made by a Socialist to exhibit the evils of mar- 
rlao'e or even of parental authority or of the relations of landlord and 
tenant, &c., &c., a far worse show could be made. More wives are 
killed by their husbands, than slaves by their masters, a hundred 
times. The evil is here, and the question is how to get rid of it, and 
on that but httle light has yet been thrown from any quarter. The 
Americans were not alone In finding difficulty resulting from disorders 
in society from a long growth of wrong. When England has cleared 
her skirts of evils within her own limits, It will be time enough for her 
to dictate to us. 

But my quarrel with Mrs. Stowe Is not for having written her 
book, mahgnant as some parts of it are. It is for consenting to be 



MRS. STOWE'S BRITISH POPULARITY. 291 

f(&ted by your people in reward for her book. We are not deceived, 
nor ought she to be, as to the cause of such honor being awarded her 
among you. The proof is too plain that it is a jealous hate of Ameri- 
ca, not a love of human happiness ; a hate which grows without any 
occasion, but our increasing commercial and moral rivalry. At the 
very moment that Mrs. Stowe was received with acclamations, the 
British armies were carrying blood-shed and rapine into the Burman 
empire, and all British India is but a bloody monument of British ra- 
pacity, cruelty, and selfishness — yet what voice of mercy is heard from 
your pseudo-philanthropists on that subject ? Slavery, far worse than 
our country knows, prevails in Russia, your monarchical ally, yet 
•what voice has been heard in Britain against that? Does the fact 
that our slaves are black and the Russians white make the differ- 
ence ? No, my friend, your anti-slavery feeling against America is 
but the form of British hate, Britain's pet Pharisaism — which, while 
it declaims against the views of others, tolerates the most monstrous 
evils at home and abroad. If anything could make the unholy farce 
more transparent, it is the fact that the Duchess of Sutherland heads 
the movement. Sutherland is a name which her Grace's mother and 
father made infamous for the most horrid cruelties in driving their 
Highland clansmen from their homes of centuries in circumstances un- 
rivalled for cruelty, except it be by more recent evictions in Ireland. 
The United States have freely given homes to the fugitive slaves who 
were driven out of Great Britain by tyrannies, such as no Southern 
planter ever dreamed of. Mrs. Stowe knows the reason of her 
British popularity, and I call it the conduct of a traitor to receive 
personal favors at the expense of one's country. As to your emanci- 
pation of the West India slaves (a pretty mess you have made of it) 
the parallel holds not good, as the owners of these slaves did not 
emancipate them, but were forced by a foreign parliament against all 
the votes which indirectly represented them to the measure. Our 
Northern States had long before, — New York in 1818 — set their 
slaves free, and now the power to free those at the South lies in 
Southern hands, not ours. The people who voted the West India 
slaves free were 3000 miles away from any evils or dangers conse- 
quent upon the step ; the more than three millions of blacks are with- 
in our own borders. The British West India slavery was so cruel 
that the number of the slaves decreased ; in our Southern States they 



292 MEMOIR OF gp:o. w. bethune, d. d. 

increase faster than any population in the world, a clear sign that 
physically at least they are not ill treated. Do you know, also, that 
the number of slaves voluntarily and without compensation set free in 
this country, considerably exceeds all that Great Britain has emanci- 
pated? These are the reasons why Mrs. Stowe, as an American 
woman, should have declined honors at the cost of her country's hon- 
or. I speak from my own heart. When I first went to Great Britain 
in 1836, I found myself assailed at every dinner-table in England and 
Scotland, from that of the peer downwards, with attacks on my coun- 
try. I withdrew myself from all society, but those of my personal 
friends. I bore letters to some of the most eminent men of Glasgow, 
Drs. Wardlaw, Hugh, and others, but I presented none of them, for 
they had united in a meeting of pharisaical hate of America. When 
I have been in Great Britain, twice since, I have travelled as an un- 
known stranger, rather than break bread under roofs where my 
country was abused. This, depend upon it, is the feeling of the more 
thoughtful among Americans visiting Great Britain ; Mrs. Stowe is a 
notorious exception. Fervently do I long and pray and labor for the 
emancipation of the slaves. I hate the system which oppresses them, 
and every system of oppression. But I cannot condemn my fellow 
sinner at the South for being placed in temptations I know nothing 
of, nor can I shut my eyes to any evil but one. When the beam is 
out of the eye of Great Britain, she may well see clearer. The times 
threaten a period not far off when Great Britain and the United 
States should stand shoulder to shoulder for the liberties of the world. 
The once harsh mother will need the arm of her sturdy child. All 
that can tend to bind us together should be carefully cherished, and 
we were tending to this when the devil assumed the form of charity 
and stirred up Uncle Tom's Cabin to distract and embitter. 

Yours affectionately, 

Geo. W. Bethune." 

Desire to present Dr. Bethune's relation to this subject in 
connection has carried us, in time, beyond another of the 
grand occasions in his life ; the meeting of sympathy with 
the Madiai, where he represented " the martyrs of Holland 
and the inflexible opponents of papal intolerance." A gew- 



TUE MADIAI FAMILY. 293 

tleman who has had large privileges of hearing distinguished 
men at home and abroad, has told us that he never listened 
to so fine a specimen of forensic eloquence. 

" At Florence, Italy, several members of the Madiai family- 
had been imprisoned at hard labor for the single crime of 
possessing a Bible ; and they were sentenced to sufier for 
several years ; this fact, published abroad, had excited the 
rebuke of the civilized world. Immense meetings had been 
held in London, Edinburgh and Dublin, to denounce the bar- 
barism, and it was arranged that on the 7th January, 1853, 
the city of New York should utter its voice. Metropolitan 
Hall was engaged, the largest in the country and capable 
of holding about 6000 persons ; it was an assembly of the 
wit, beauty and religion of the city gathered together to 
hear their favorite orators, and to express Christian sympa- 
thy with the persecuted. Mr. Westervelt, the mayor of the 
city, presided, and addresses were made by representative 
men of different denominations ; but Dr. Bethune rose head 
and shoulders above them all. Never shall I forget the 
sensation as his clear, bell-like voice rang upon my ears. 
He came from the back part of the stage speaking as he ad- 
vanced, his great body seeming to grow larger with emotion 
at every step he took. 

' I feel as if I were called again into the presence of centuries long 
past. I seem to hear those sublime words ringing in my ears : I 
believe in the Holy Ghost, and in the holy Catholic church, and in 
the communion of Saints. There is hut one head and one body ; and 
wherever there is one who believes in Jesus Christ, there is a member 
of that Church ; and if one member suffers, all the members suffer 
with it. If we have the Holy Ghost within us, if we have become 
vitally united to the body of our blessed Lord by a living faith, there 
is not one of us whose heart is not bleeding with those beloved Chris- 
tians who are now crushed beneath the foot of the oppressor ; and we 



294 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

must, before God, who gave us hearts and faith, speak out. I am 
sure we must all feel it, and our sympathies must find relief ; and if it 
reach no further than to give us relief from this pent-up emotion, this 
meeting is a blessing to the freemen and inhabitants of New York. 

I said I felt as if I were called into centuries long past away. We 
read of the sufferings of the primitive Christians ; we read of them 
who were stoned and sawn asunder, who sang amidst the smoke of 
their fires, who perished in dungeons with the long pain of fatal hun- 
ger ; and, until a very short time ago, we had felt, as Christians, that 
those days had past. There were some prophecies that, interpreted in 
a particular light, seemed to tell that the days of that persecution 
might return ; but we had long been in the habit of feeling that those 
days had gone. 

It is not long since we had the privilege of welcoming the stranger 
among us, and it was a higher privilege to welcome the exiles from 
the island of Madeira. Then, for the first time, we were permitted 
to see tlie Confessors such as are now canonized by that same 
Church of Rome. And now we are told, that two obscure individuals, 
in the midst of that Church, are incarcerated and treated as felons, for 
no crime but reading the Bible. From my heart I sympathize with 
that brother and sister in Christ ; but much remains yet behind to be 
filled up of the sufferings of Christ. There remains yet a necessity for 
the sufferings of the people of God to prove, in the first place, the evil 
of that spirit which exalts itself against the Scriptures ; and in the 
second place, to prove the divinity of that faith which upholds the 
soul above torture, and imprisonment, and death. 

This proves that the spirit of that power is unchanged. It is impos- 
sible for an American, brought up from his childhood amidst the light, 
and liberty and privileges which we enjoy in this land, it is impossible 
for him to conceive the tyranny and oppression which exist in the Old 
World ; and when we tell him of it, he tells us that we are calumniating 
our brethren and that it is not riglit to bring such charges against 
men, because their ancestors in past centuries have been guilty of 
crimes, and that the growing light of science and the interchange of 
philanthropic feeling have wrought a great revolution in the spirit of 
that church which was formerly recognized as a church of persecution. 
Here is a fact rising up before us, which tells us that the spirit which 
persecuted the Albigenses is still there, not dead, but rampant and 



RELIGIOUS OPPRESSION. 295 

ready, so far as it has the power, to crush now, as it was ready to 
crush five hundred years ago. Am I wrong in this ? I see a brother 
here upon the stage who told me once in preaching preparatory to the 
Sacrament, he took occasion to explain the fallacy of the doctrine of 
transubstantiation held by the Catholic Church, and that one of his 
parishioners complained of his slandering the Catholics ; for we all 
know, said the man, that nobody can believe such nonsense. This 
was the light he took of it, and precisely in the same manner do wo 
find people believing it impossible that the spirit of persecution can 
still exist as it existed in former years. The spirit of antichrist is the 
same at all times. The spirit of Christ says Search the Scriptures ; 
and wherever there comes a spirit which forbids you to search the 
Scriptures, you may depend upon it that there is the spirit of anti- 
christ, because it is opposed to it. (Applause.) And now we know 
that his oppression exists, does it not become us to aid the oppressed? 
Are we not a republic ? and are we not the only nation on the face of 
the earth, except it be the little republic on the shores of Liberia, in 
which religious liberty is entire ? (Applause). Since we in this coun- 
try, as republicans, are bearing our testimony to the value of republi- 
can principles in the face of the whole earth, should we not believe 
that it is part of our mission not only to enjoy what God has sent us, 
but to diffuse it to others ? This is the only country in which the prin- 
ciple of religious liberty has been permitted to work itself out ; and as 
all our churches have flourished and grown strong, and been a bles- 
sing to us under the system, I say it is our duty, not as Protestants 
only, but as freemen, to lift up our voice against religious oppression 
wherever it may exist. (Loud applause.) 

Now I wish to speak a few words in relation to the Romish Church. 
What is the meaning of the words Protestant Country, as applied 
to the United States? I read as follows :" I suppose that at last it 
will come down to signify nothing more than the majority of the inhab- 
itants are Protestants ; but has it never occurred to those who would 
make such an objection, that majorities and minorities are mere acci- 
dents, liable to change I whereas the constitution is a principle and 
not an accident; its great," and mark you this, "its great and unap- 
preciable value is that it prescribes the duties of the majority, and 
protects with equal and impartial justice the rights of the minority. 
In this country the Constitution of the United States says the majority 
shall rule." 



296 3[e:![0ir ct geo. v^. betiiu^'e, d. d. 

God errant it I '• Xo^ in pursnanee of the constitution, this is 
neither a Protestant nor a Catholic eonntn', bnt a broad land of civil 
and religions freedom and eqnalitv secured to all.'* This is the eulogi- 
nm pronounced upon the Constitution of the United States by Arch- 
bishop Hnsrhes. Xow, I have not the honor of knowing that gentle- 
man personally, but vre are sufficiently well known to the public to 
warrant my not waiting for an introduction, and I call upon him, in 
the name of the liberties which his church has enjoyed — in the name 
of that freedom whidb eTerr Protestant in this house, that is worthy 
the name of Protestant, is willing to accord to erery Roman Catho- 
lic in the land — I call upon him in gratitude to the Ealtimores and 
Williamses, and those whose spirits made that Constitution of ours 
free from erery stain of religious restraint — I call upon him to join 
us in calling upon lie Duke of Tuscany to set free these people. (Tre- 
mendous applause.) If this oppression be not the work of Roman 
Catholicism, he cannot, he will not, refuse to join in the extension of 
that principle over which he rejoices, (cheers.) If he does not join 
us we shall beliere that such oppression is part and parcel of Roman 
Catholicism, and that if they had the power here, they would act like 
the Duke of Tuscany. This is the point to which we come. We 
hare stronger sympathies in one caase than another, and it is possible 
that I may hare them : but I rerily beliere, if I know my own heart, that 
if this were a case of religious oppression of a Jew or Turk, much more 
the oppression of a Roman Catholic, who yet I hold to be a fellow- 
Christian — I may say my indignation would be as strong as it is now ; 
and I would lift up my feeble voice in advocacy of the great princi- 
ple, that, let man be Jew, Turk,Papi5t, or Protestant, let him alone. 
(Loud applause) Let him talk with his God, and let hi; God talk with 
him : and therefore it is not as a Protestant, but as a Christian citizen 
of a free land that I am glad to see my Catholic fellow-citizens as free 
as myself — therefore it is that I desire to protest against this oppres- 
sion, and I call upon my Catholic brethren to join me in the protest. 
(Applause.) It will not come : depend upon it, it will not. 

Every one who knows anything about Italy for years since, is aware 
that this very Dake of Tasemy was so kind- so clement, and r.o leni- 
ent a prince, that he may be said to have been the best beloved of all Eu- 
ropean sovereigns, unless it may be perhaps the Emperor of Russia, 
who is regarded with a sort of a religions affection ; and I will tell you 



KOME A^D EOMAXISM. 207 

raore, that if that conspiracy which broke out some rears ago to con- 
solidate Italy into one kingdom had been successful, the leaders 
would have placed him at the head of the kingdom. And why ? Be- 
cause of his liberal sentiments and kind heart they Tnshed to put him 
on the throne. I have seen, sir. this old man walking, with his hands 
behind liis back, superintending the improvements of Leghorn and 
other parts of his dominions, patting the little children on the head, 
talking to the working people, and nodding familiarly to the market- 
women, the ver}- picture of a good king. Has this man changed ? 
Yes. At that very time, the minions of the Pope endeavoured to use 
him in oppressing the people : but he put them one side, and set his 
face against religious tyranny. But he has now grown old, his brain 
has become weak, his heart fearful, and he has changed. It is not the 
Grand Duke of Tuscany now, it is the priest. Am I wrong in charg- 
ing this upon the priesthood ? The Pope is a priest, and the Pope is 
supreme at Rome. Let the Pope decree religious liberty; let the 
Pope wash his h.ands of religious oppression, let religion be free in 
Rome, and then I shall believe that religious oppression is not the act 
of the priest, but of the government. 

But this very night there is within the city of Rome, a narrow 
street, with a gate at each end, into which is crammed everv night 
from seven to eight hundred human beings. Drive through that street 
in the daytime, and you need perfume to keep you from fainting, such is 
the consequence of this dense population. "Who are these people? 
They are almost under the shadow of the Vatican. And this most 
Christian sovereign of the most Christian Church, has the power to set 
them free ; but he closes the gates on them at eight o'clock every even- 
ing in the winter, .and nine o'clock in the summer, anil opens them 
in the morning at a corresponding hour. Why is this ? Because they 
are Jews, and the Roman Catholic religion tolerates no religion but 
its own. If we are guilty of slander — if it seems like calumny to 
charge oppression upon those who prafess in some respects the same 
faith as ourselves, let them wash their hands of these things. The 
Pope ought to be the champion of religious freedom. lie should set the 
example to the world by allowing truth to come into contact with error. 

If there be a city, next to Jerusalem itself, filled with consecrated 
recollections, it is Rome — Rome, whose grounds are honey-combed 
with the tombs of early martyrs. A little while since, when there 



298 MEMOm OF GEO. W. BETHUXE, D. D. 

■was danger, what did you see ? A sovereign prince, the representa- 
tive of the Apostle — puts on a livery and gets behind a travelling- 
carriage and flies like a lackey ! The coward fled! And he whose 
voice of authority had roared like a bull from the Vatican, roared 
from the palace of Casta, like a petted calf ! 

Are you here to sympathize with a gentleman, a nobleman ? This 
man, who is imprisoned, is what is called a lackey, a hired servant. 
This man, when called to give up his Bible, did he fly ? fly like a 
Pope ? No ; superstition has made a Pope a coward, while the Bible 
has raised a lackey to the dignity of a nobleman.'' 

He now called upon the priests to join in maintaining 
civil liberty. But he believed if they controlled the muni- 
cipal authorities of this city as they do the Duke or Tus- 
cany, his head to-morrov7 morning would not be worth a 
sixpence. ' And yet, said he,' I here declare before God, that 
I hope I have the spirit of my country's history, and have 
drunk deeply enough of the spirit of religious liberty, to lay 
my head upon a block and have it chopped off, before a sin- 
gle hair of the head of the most bigoted Papist in this land 
should suffer the least harm by religious persecution.' 
(Tumultuous applause, and the speaker took his seat.) 
While he attacked the system, he cherished no undue pre- 
judices against the people. When at a public meeting 
Gavazzi one night attacked Chief Justice Taney as a Ro- 
manist, the writer remembers that Dr. Bethune abruptly 
left the stage, saying, ' He is a most pure man. Gavazzi 
knows nothing about us.' " 

The following extract from his speech before the Sea- 
men's Friend Society, affords yet another evidence of his 
powers as an orator: 

" Suppose," said he, "that every ship that sails from this port, every 
ship especially that stretches her course into those quarters of the world 
where ' the darkness of the shadow of death,' is still on the nations, 
were manned by Christian seamen, commanded by pious officers, and 
were followed by the prayers of pious merchants, as eager that those 



seamen's friend society. 299 

ships should be made tributary to the glory of God, that those men 
should be made instrumental in carrying light among the destitute, as 
that they should bring home the profits of commercial enterprise, what 
would be the consequence ? How scon would this earth be blessed with 
the knowledge of the Lord, and all nations rejoice in the blessing of 
that light which shines over us ! This is what the Christian world must 
come to. Our religion does not inculcate piety merely for one day in 
the week, to take one dollar out of a thousand and put it into the treas- 
ury of the Lord. It should be like leaven that Icaveneth the whole 
lump, pervading our whole life, and making our daily occupation sacred 
to God. Consecrating every instrumentality of our worldly comfort and 
prosperity, by making it subservient to the great cause of salvation 
throughout the whole world. 

And where, if this doctrine be true, is this instrumentality so full of 
promise, or so certain, under Divine blessing, of success, as in the op- 
portunities offered by the Seamen's Friend Society? He did not pro- 
pose to enter into all the romance thrown around the seaman's character. 
A great many reckless and jovial characteristics he possessed on land. 
They afforded opportunities for a display of rhetoric, but practically, the 
sailor was like other men, born with the same naked depravities, ex- 
posed to the same temptations, and needing precisely the same grace 
of God that converted Paul, Mary Magdalene, or any sinner on the 
face of the earth. It was no more difficult for that grace to convert the 
sailor than the landsman. Either, according to his faith, was miracu- 
lous ; a work great as creation. But when we believe it is the power 
of God, we believe that that power is promised to earnest faith ; and 
the word which says, ' That which we sow, we shall also reap,' is the only 
encouragement which leads us on in this great work of attempting to 
evangelize the men of the sea. But the sailor has claims on us, not from 
his peculiar generosity or characteristics, which make it better or worse. 
The soul of one man, all other things being equal, is worth as much 
as another ; but, when converted, it may be worth more than another, 
in the influence which it may bring to bear on the world. If the sailor 
is going to distant lands, to a nation resembling our own at onetime, to 
the shores cursed by the superstitions of Rome at another; on one voy? 
age to a part darkened by the faith of the False Prophet, or upon an- 
other, to one Avliere dcmonism slirouds its people in the absurdities of a 
cruel feticism : the conversion of this wanderer of the seas, who comes 



300 MEMOIli OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

as near ubiquity as any man can, is worth, in tliis light, more than i.iG 
conversion of ten ordinary men that stay at Lome, ev-ery night sleeping 
in the same bed, and every Sabbath worshipping in the same church. 
God, in his providence made great use of common men, but the conver- 
sion of these was not equal, in its influence, in the v\'orld at large, to the 
conversion of one intelligent sailor who travels over the earth. 

Again, the sailor claims especial care, not because of Ms aptness or 
unaptness to receive instruction. God, by his Spirit, makes that soil the 
least promising, the most fruitful. But God works by means. We have 
Christian churches everwhere ; but it is not so for the sailor. He is a 
few days in port, and many days at sea ; one Sabbath within reach of the 
Gospel, and three, four, five, perhaps a year or two, where no Sabbath 
bell is heard, no gospel preached, and no Christian influence brought to 
bear; and because the sailor has not a Sabbath in ten tliat we have, 
should we work ten times as hard to do the sailor good on that Sabbath, 
as we do to serve ordinary men any common Sabbath of the year. 

We want to intensify our labor for the sailor, because when we catch 
him, it is only for a little time ; while the minister can preach to the ordi- 
nary people, if tliey will keep awake to hear him, every Sunday in the 
year. This society provides for the sailor at home, every accommoda- 
tion ; and, not content to bless him at home, it follows him abroad ; 
and it was the great purpose of the charity, next to giving the sailor an 
opportunity of instruction here, to send the gospel to meet him every- 
where he goes. Funds alone were needed to carry out fully this ob- 
ject; for wherever there is a port which gathers together a sufficient 
number of American ships to make a congregation, there were they 
ready to offer the gospel, with all tlie instrumentalities tliat surround it, 
as an appointed means of blessing to the world. 

No harbor in which ships bearing the American flag are crowded, 
should be without a due provision for the dissemination of religious 
truth. Think of the example our country recently set to the world, 
perhaps too long delayed, but not the less glorious since manifested. 
A man, not a native of this country, a fugitive from the land of his 
birth, where his struggles in the cause of freedom, giving them the best 
interpretation, compromised his safety, — passing, as it were, only 
under the shadow of the American flag, that shadow consecrates him as 
under the protection of a mighty nation ; and there, one who wears the 



MEETING IN HONOR OF COOPER. 301 

uniform of this country, declares, in the face of a triple force, tliat he 
is safe ; that he must be delivered up into the hands of those represent- 
ing the dignity of that country, whose protection he claimed. And what 
has been the result? 

The dignity of our country has been elevated in the estimation of 
the world. The name of the gallant Captain Ingraham cannot be ut- 
tered without calling forth the acclamations of his countrymen. (Ap- 
plause.) 

But, while doing him honor, he (Rev. Dr. Bethune) was not the less 
certain that there was not an officer in our American navy that was not 
prepared to do the same for an American, wherever found. Now, they 
wanted the church to be as faithful to the sailor, as the country is to her 
citizen ; that the sailor, wherever he goes, niiglit know that there is a 
friend armed with the panoply of the gospel, to shield him from the dan- 
gers, worse, a thousand-fold, than a foreign dungeon, chains, or tem- 
poral death ; a friend that could lash his soul safe, as it were, to the 
cross that should float him safely over the waters to Heaven. 

Wherever we have a commerce, wherever the American flag is un- 
furled, there is truth, defence, and a nation pledged for the safety of its 
citizens, who had the right to worship God as conscience should dictate. 
And every administration that should not get the privilege for them, 
should be turned out one after another. But what we ask, is more than 
the right to worthip God as we desire ; the opportunity, the churchy the 
preacher, the communion vessels, the Bible, the hymn book, all the as- 
sociations of Christianity, all consolations v/hen away from our dear 
America, wherever we go, under the combined flags of the Bethel, and 
of the American nation." 

At the memorial service of J. Fenniraore Cooper, held at 
City Hall, New York, Sept. 25th, 1851, W. Irving in the 
chair, Dr. Bethune said : 

" The eloquent gentleman, who has just addressed you, said that we 
had met to celebrate the obsequies ' of him who has been in all our 
thoughts.' Pardon me for dissenting from the expression. "We have 
met to congratulate his spirit on its immortality. We are not permitted 
to look within the mysterious veil which divides time from eternity, or 



302 MEMOIU OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

follow him before the presence of God ; but we know that he died in 
firm faith upon the Son of God, our lledeemer, the only ' way, and 
truth, and life,' by whom we can ' come unto the Father.' In those al- 
mighty, just, and merciful hands, we can leave him; but while we mourn 
the departure of his generous worth on earth, it is our comfort and joy 
to know that liis mind lives for as, and for all posterity, in Ms imper- 
ishable pages. If wc may not hear fresh oracles of wisdom and truth 
from his once indefatigable pen, those which he has uttered remahi 
with us, ever precious and affectionately cherished. It is now our de- 
sire to erect a memorial of our gratitude for so rich a legacy. The 
fame of our Cooper needs no artificial monument ; with his own hand has 
he engraved it on the magic scenery of our country, and interwoven ic 
with the legends of our history. 

He was not a poet in the melody of rhythm or the responses of 
rhyme, but eminently one in the faculty of throwing the charms of im- 
agination around rugged realities, and of elevating the soul with noble 
sentiments. Who, with any sense of poetry could read the 'Prairie' 
and not feel entranced by a poet's spell ! He was a true poet, and, if we 
had the spiritual perception or the vivid imagination of a true poet, we 
should be conscious of a mournful moan,from out the rocky cliffs of the 
Hudson, answered by the sighing of its sad waves along the shores illus- 
trated by his genius. 

There is scarcely a portion of our land, or scene of our best history, 
or field of the ocean cut by an American keel, which does not bear testi- 
mony to his graphic truth. But, sir, how dare I attempt his eulogy, af- 
ter his memory has been crowned this night by the classic hand of him, 
whom all of us acknowledge the foremost representative of American po- 
etry; before an assembly of our citizens unparalleled for its combination 
of numbers, intelligence and moral worth, presided over — pardon me, 
sir, I would fain avoid the excuses of unnecessary compliment, but when 
I use the briefest term must pay the greatest — presided over by your- 
self! 

My friend Mr. Bancroft has said (I cannot repeat his happy language, 
but will reach his thought) that we are not here to honor ' other men of 
letters,' the worthy compeers of their deceased brother; but I come out 
from this assembled senate of authors (among wliom I have lawfully no 
place) to speak as one of tlie people, and say that we are assembled for 
their honor as well as his. 



IMMORTALITY OF GENIUS. 303 

"We are met to assure tliosc eminent men, wlio give us the wise lessons 
of our history, ennoble our thoughts by the highest flights of song, and 
charm us with ethics in the pure strength of our Saxon tongue, made 
graceful and tender through the inspiration of an exquisite sensibility, 
ihat we are not ungrateful for the high benefits which the Father of lighls 
confers upon us in their devoted services. This is the occasion for a 
precedent of admiring justice to our men of commanding and generous 
intellect. It is a sad thought, which can be relieved only by the faith that 
the recoids of genius are imperishable— but the present reality forces it 
upon us — the men whom we are this night happy to look upon, whose 
voice and pen are even now contributing their efforts for our delight and 
profit, must soon pass away. 

We must have the satisfaction of assuring them by the honour we pay 
to the memory of their first-born, first-departed brother, that, when they 
are gone they shall not be forgotten. No, gentlemen, (bowing to Messrs 
Bryant, Bancroft, and Irving) go on in the noble career for which Prov- 
idence has fitted you, — add hourly to the inestimable treasures already 
bestowed by your hands upon your countrymen and the world ; and if 
you need a motive beyondyour own self-gratifying love of doing good, be 
assured that when you ro.9 quoque moriiurih^ye left us, we, who now 
cover with tributary laurels the brow of Cooper, will follow your ashes 
with fond and loyal recollections. 

Yet our thanks should not be expended in ' winged words', but, for the 
sake of posterity and the mass of our compatriot people, embodied in some 
enduring, public shape. Arts are kindred ; and among the best uses to 
which those who imitate the visible works of the Creator can bo devoted, 
is the preservation of their form and features who have been benefactors 
of their country and mankind. Therefore would we, and our purpose 
shall not fail, erect such a monument to the honor of this great and good 
man, the first, I trust, of a long series, which shall commemorate his co- 
temporaries and successors in like dignity. 

We could not fail to note,— as the orator of the evening in simple and 
elegant panegyric traced the long catalogue of our Cooper's writings, — 
that those whicli most concerned the history and scenes of his native land 
and ours, were most appreciated and efficient. The classical nations of 
antiquity deemed the fame of a hero or a sage not complete until they had 
inaugurated his statue. The capitals of modern Europe are crowded with 
such enduring presentments of those Avhom kings delight to honor as in- 



304 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

struments of despotism, or for whom the people are permitted to testify 
esteem as friends of humanity. There is scarcely a town, however small, 
without one or more statues of the dead in its open squares. But, many 
as are the illustrious of our annals, you might look throughout our whole 
land, and (with some insignificant exceptions) discover no proofs that we 
can appreciate public services. 

Let us, then, invoke the Genius of Sculpture, whose presence among 
us is so amply certified, to pourtray for the eyes of our people and their 
children, the lineaments of that face and form which, when living, were 
animated by the patriotic and zealous spirit of Cooper. Let it be placed, 
not in a hall of learning, or in a retreat of the few, but in the free common 
air and sunlight, where all may look upon it, and learn fresh gratitude, 
and gain fresh incentives to pursuits so honorable and so honored. We 
have been told that his voice is now heard in every civilized tongue, and 
we know, wherever it speaks, it tells the story of our national dignity and 
teaches the maxims of political -wisdom and honesty which have raised 
us to our unexampled prosperity. Such are the best contributions we 
can make to the freedom of oppressed countries ; because they shoAV 
that without a popular love of justice and union, arms and blood are pow- 
erless to achieve liberty. The world has admired our Cooper as a man 
of genius ; let them see that his countrymen love him as a wise champion 
of political truth, and a faithful citizen. 

Without love, which our God has ordained to be the sole sufficient 
spring of all duty, virtue is but a name ; and without patriotism (the scoff 
of knaves, but the admiration of the good) our citizenship will be hy- 
pocrisy. Let us cherish this grand virtue ; let us teach it to posterity ; 
and by public respect to the memory of those, who, like Cooper, have 
served earnestly under the institutions which educated them, conserve 
our self-respect and show our thankfulness for our wide, rich land, our 
unequalled constitution, and the union of those States, the bond of their 
security." 

We conclude these specimens with a speech before the 
American Bible Society, perhaps the most elaborate effort 
of the kind that he ever prepared. He began by oifering 
the following Resolution : 



BIBLE SOCIETY SPEECH. 305 

** As the Providence of God is bringing great numbers from foreign 
countries to reside among us, many of them without tlie Bible, 

Resolved, That it is among our first duties to furnish them with that 
Sacred Book, that they may thus become a blessing and not an evil to 
our population. 

I am thankful to the committee of arrangements for putting in ray 
hands, a theme which will greatly assist me to redeem my speech from 
want of interest, because of the absolute want of time to prepare for it. 
Here is a theme which appeals to the heart of every man not only as a 
Christian, but also as a citizen of the United States. There was a great 
and sublime truth couched in the Neo-Platonic doctrine ; that ' God is 
unity,' and that as wc depart from God we run into multiplicity, and in 
proportion as we go away from God, do we become not only multiplici- 
tous and conflicting, but even chaotic. 

God in tJie beginning spoke to our first parents, and to their immediate 
offspring ; but when men in the pride of their wicked hearts were not 
willing to retain him in their imagination, they went out from Him, and 
they 'changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made 
like unto corruptible man, and to birds and four-footed beasts, and 
creeping things,' and thence came all that horrible catalogue of vices 
which are included under the awful name of heathenism. Without God 
in the world, the nations became not only without religion, but without 
viHue; that bond, which out of the many, constitutes society, was lost 
when the centralizing, harmonizing, and comprehending doctrine of God 
was taken from the common soul of humanity ; and sir, out of this came 
the separation of mankind. It was not only from the judgment of God 
but a m.oral necessity, that when the people erected a temple to the false 
god, Bel, there should have been a dispersion with a confusion of lan- 
guages. They set up idolatry in the place of the true God ; and so de- 
clared themselves traitorous rebels against the unity of the race, and 
God left them to their own devices, and their very speech became 
warped and strange to each other. They could not talk in one tongue, 
because they had lost the teaching of their common Father. Out of 
this came the multitude of languages which, much more, perhaps, than 
geographical position, separates our race into so many distinct and 
often conflicting nations. But, sir, under the influence of that same 
religion from wliich man departed at the rise of idolatry — that blessed 
20 



30G MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

religion which is taught in our Bible — we return to the unity from 
which we have departed. 

We find the type of this in our own souls. How sweet to us, how 
sweet in the experience of every Christian agitated by the cares and the 
anxieties of life — how sweet to the Christian, when in his intellectual 
pursuits he finds himself troubled amidst the varieties and oppositions 
of human philosophy, when, like the messenger of Noah, he can find 
no rest as he pursues his weary and wandering way over the dark and 
storm-tossed sea; how sweet it is, sir, to come home to God, and have 
our Noah put forth his hand and take us into the ark of the blessed 
Bible ! Then do we say with him of old, ' In the multitude of my 
thoughts Avitliin me ' — in the chaos of these errors, doubts and anxieties, 
when human wisdom can give me no clue, when human teachers trouble 
me more by their contrarieties and difierences — ' in the multitude of 
my thoughts within me, thy comforts delight my soul.' There is our 
comfort. We come home to God ; he is our Noah, our Rest. Our 
reason bows herself and looks up in the face of a smiling Father ; and 
as he speaks to us by his Spirit of life, and says, ' Peace, my child,' the 
peace of God, not merely the peace, which God gives, but the peace 
which God has — the infinite, profound serenity, the infinite sublime 
calm which dwells in the mind of God, far above the conflicts of the 
storms that, hang around this little world — ' the peace of God which 
passeth all understanding,' comes into our own hearts, and as far as 
our little finite can hold the infinite, it fills us with God himself, and 
our happiness is like his. 

One of the heathern philosophers, and the wisest of them, tells 
us that * virtue is the harmony of the soul ; ' when every thought, 
affection, desire, and motive are in perfect harmony, then is our 
virtue perfect. And another, copying from him, says, in language I 
have not good English enough properly to translate, that when it 
shall please the Divinity to take from our eyes the mists, as they were 
taken from the eyes of Diomed, we shall then see what to us is now 
invisible, we shall have the perfect mind, that is, the finished reason, 
which is all the same as virtue. It must be so ; intellectual truth 
and moral rectitude must come together when they are perfect. 
Perfeda mens, id est ahsoluta ratio, quod, est idem virtus. 

Now, sir, this is the unity of God's blessed religion. It takes the 
human heart of the individual, which is but the type of the whole 



UNITY OF BIBLE IlELIGION. 307 

race ; it pervades it with the love of God, Avhlch is the perfection of 
the law, and instantly all passion, all desires, all thoughts, all motives, 
come into perfect harmony, and the virtue of man is godliness, and 
all true righteousness is peace. This is the type of what will be the 
effect of our holy religion upon the Avhole world. Do we see, when 
we take up our precious Bible, where it leads us from its very begin- 
ning ? There are philosophers of the world, your cosmogonists, or 
whatever you please to term them, that are boring down to the deep- 
est stratum to frame their hypotheses, their ideas. God forbid that 
I should hold, for a moment, true science to be in quarrel with 
revelation. That can never be. No, sir, the God who made nature 
wrote the Bible ; and I am not prepared to be an infidel as regards 
the one principle any more than an infidel as regards the other. My 
natural philosophy and my moral philosophy are in harmony with my 
religion ; but we have here, as elsewhere, a multitude of thoughts in 
this humaft mind of ours. 

The cosmogonist of fifty years since was as positive that he was 
right as the cosmogonist of this day is positive that his predecessor 
was utterly wrong. Men were as wise in their own conceits, before 
they found out the simple law upon which every child acts ; the law 
of gravitation. It took them from the creation to Newton to find out 
the law which lies upon the very surface, open to every eye ; yet 
were they very positive in those days. Wise were they, also, before 
the discovery was made of that wonderful element which pervades 
all the physical economy of this lower earth, and whose mysteries we 
have but begun to penetrate, — I mean that element called electricity, 
which enters into every physical change we have the ability to ob- 
serve ; which is found in light, life, in everything that has movement 
and increase. Yet the world, before they discovered electricity, were 
as wise in their own conceit as they are now ; and may I ask, by way 
of parenthesis, who can tell that to-morrow there may not be discov- 
ered a principle which has been hidden from the world until now ; 
which shall work ns great changes in the theories of your cosmogonists, 
as the discovery of gravitation or of electricity ? 

But, sir, whatever may be our philosophical reasonings, the com- 
fort of God delights our souls, and fills us with a peace that passeth 
all understanding, when, as we read, ' In the beginning God created 
the heaven and the earth.' There is where we begin ; and when we 



308 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

go back there, there is no conflict ; we have returned to peace. ' God 
created the heavens and the earth.' It is my opinion that the best 
proof, and the proof that is irresistible, of the being of God, is, that 
we know his being, and may contemplate him, as he is presented to 
us in the Scriptures. God alone could reveal God. Were there no 
God, the thought of the Infinite One could never have entered our 
minds. But, sir, when we have that thought, how does it lead us 
down from the original Cause, to the possible changes and results of 
the world's history. ' God created the heavens and the earth ; ' God 
laid these foundations ; God planned the superstructure ; God gave it 
its beauty and symmetry; and will the Architect, looking compla- 
cently upon His beautiful work, abandon it ? Can that go to chance 
which came from Infinite Mind ? We go with the Bible up to God. 
When we take a step farther on, what do we find but the race in the 
one man and the one woman whom God gave him? and whatever 
differences or distances may, in the process of time, have come 
between man and man, and nations and nations, there we all meet. 
All, from the noble, proud of his genealogy, to the most lowly servant 
of our necessity, meet in the one man ; no matter what tongue is 
spoken, no matter what be the hue of the skin, no matter what be the 
form of government, or the degree of civilization in which he lives. 
The man that looks to the first man who came from the hand of God, 
must recognize every other man, on the face of the whole earth, as his 
brother. Then again, when, from the wickedness of men, there came 
to be the necessity of the washing out of sin from the whole world, 
and the second father came, in Noah, we are again united in the ark 
of typical promise. 

Let me, sir, pass on to a yet more interesting point of union, when 
God called out from the idolaters of that ancient superstition, from the 
very fires of Baal, his friend, His chosen instrument of good and 
blessing, the one he named Abraham, to go forth, not knowing 
whither he went, gave him that promise which the apostle Paul 
emphatically terms the Gospel, and said, ' In thy seed shall all 
nations be blessed.' There is no division there, no foreigner there, 
no division of human language or of human relationship there. * In 
thy seed ' not thy seeds, as of many, but as of one * in thy seed, 
— which is Christ, the seed that succeeded in the promise, the seed 
of the covenant, 'in thy seed,' — in the seed of the woman, — 'in 
thy seed shall all nations be blessed.' 



MAJESTY OF THE GOSPEL. 309 

And then passing on through the intermediate Scriptures, Avhen we 
hear the multitudinous voices of angels rejoicing over Bethlehem, the 
same voices, I doubt not, that swelled the diapason of their hallelu- 
jahs, when * the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God 
shouted for joy,' when they returned to sing again over the earth 
their adoring joy, because of the * good news which shall be to all the 
people.' No division of language, no division of territory, no division 
of government there ; * for all people, ' before the majesty of that 
Gospel, every system of human legislation, goes down ; and, while we 
submit ourselves ' to the powers that be,' in obedience to the blessed 
example of him who counted it his chiefest honor, as an example of 
human virtue, to be the servant of all, and the servant of law ; I say, 
while in obedience to his example we submit* to the law^s of human 
government, we hold to a far higher sentiment, ' we have another 
Kng, one Jesus.' 

Wherever that name goes in its power it reigns ; and Jesus shall 
reign until the whole world is his. Pardon me if I again return to 
this history. As we come on in the history of God's providence, 
the miraculous portion of which was finished, as we suppose, with the 
completion of the Sacred Canon, we see other indications alike 
springing from, and confirming the promise of, the Divine Word of 
God. We behold the nations still separate and conflicting. The 
philanthropist looks over the stormy sea, and his heart sickens, 
and he asks himself, Shall there never be peace ? Shall these human 
brethren always bite and devour one another? Is there no method 
of purifying the human heart, the source whence come ' these wars 
and fightings amongst ' us all? How shall we speak to them? They 
speak difierent lauguages ; we cannot begin to tell them, though 
our hearts prompt us to utter the ' glad tidings of great joy.' We 
cannot begin to tell them the wonderful works of God, because we 
cannot speak in their various tongues. Yet here is the blessing of 
the Pentecost repeated. Yes, sir, tenfold is the blessing that rests 
upon your Society. 

I do not remember how many languages were known, and reduced to 
jeystem, at the time of the Pentecost; but you may count them alias 
they are given in the catalogue, by the sacred historian, and though 
they appear many, how few they are to the number of languages upon 
the face of the earth, at the present day I But what has the Bible 



310 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

Society done ? I say the Bible Society, because there will be no ques- 
tion here of my claiming, for the Bible Society, a share in the philologi- 
cal triumphs of missionaries and students under the influence of the 
Bible- What has the Bible Society done ? At the beginning of this 
century, if I mistake not, the languages of men that had been reduced 
to system, to grammar, or dictionary, or even vocabulary, did not 
amount to more than some forty or fifty. What is the case now? 
Your Secretary can give the more exact number ; I cannot be exact to 
a unit or so ; but in your own library, — certainly, if not there, in the 
combined libraries of the American and the British and Foreign Bible 
Societies, — you will find the Word of God in one hundred and seventy 
languages. I call upon men of learning, I call upon the philosophers 
of the world, I call upon all the Universities which are claimed to be 
fountains of light and knowledge, I challenge the whole earth, in all its 
breadth and all its history, to give me an equal triumph to this ; a 
triumph of science, and triumph of learning, and triumph of philan- 
thropy, like that which has trebled, more than trebled, the common 
speech of the world, in less than sixty years; gives us access, literally 
so, where we had it to but fifty peoples, to one hundred and seventy ; 
so that we and all of us who wish to talk can talk, or may soon talk, to 
the heart of our brother, wherever he lives, or whatever tongue he 
speaks, and make your Bible Society our own interpreter to all our 
kindred flesh. Ah, sir, I am not so weaned from the love of the world 
as not to rejoice over the triumphs of learning, and it is my delight to 
see how the triumphs of religion take the triumphs of learning into the 
most sacred fellowship. 

"When that great land, that mysterious nation, where there has been 
a civilization more ancient far than our own, that people whose records 
go back to the period when the ruins of the deluge were yet visible 
upon the face of their country, and which is locked up from the rest of 
the world because of its peculiar systems of governmental policy and 
its peculiarly difficult language, was to be treated with, when it was 
necessary that we, the commercial nations of the earth, England, 
France, and America, should talk to China, the many hundred 
millions of China, who was the interpreter? Did we go to Oxford? 
Could we find him in Paris? Had we him in our own Princeton, Yale, 
or Harvard? Sir, it was the missionary that talked for England, the 
son of Morrison, who translated the Bible; and the missionary that 



AFFECTING STORY. 311 

talked for America, our own noble Parker, at the mention of whose 
name« if this place were not sacred, you would burst forth in applause. 
It was a missionary, though unhappily not of our own pure Protestant 
creed, that talked for France. "Were it not for a despised missionary, 
taught, animated, and inspired by the Word of God, which he loved, we 
could have made no treaty with China, because China could not have 
understood us, or we China. This is an illustrative fact, to my mind, 
of the greatest importance. It shows that it is not philanthropy, it is 
not learning, it is not commercial enterprise, but it is religion, the 
religion of the Bible, the religion of the Bible Society, if you will, 
which is to bring all nations together, to make them speak one lan- 
guage, and to sing in perfect harmony, at no distant day, one song unto 
God and His Christ. There are thoughts connected with this of 
infinite interest to us all ; but while I speak thus, let me briefly, — for 
I will not weary an audience who are listening to me so patiently and 
kindly, — let me illustrate the fact by a touching incident : 

During the war of the Crimea, after one of the most sanguinary 
engagements, when the furious Frank and bearded Turk, and stalwart 
Briton and stolid Russ, had mingled in the fearful fray; when the 
battle-field was strewed with the dead and dying, and strange faces 
were passing before the swimming eyes of those whose thoughts were 
going back to their homes, perchance by the Don or the Volga, where 
their 'young barbarians were at play ;' perhaps their home, around 
which rustled the leaves of the vine, in merry France ; perchance the 
home in the village, with its green lattice and its Sabbath chime of old 
England; when, in this fearful hour, as the prowler was stealing from 
one to another to rob the dead, and hate v/as seeking out more 
victims to glut itself upon, and tliere, in mortal agony, lay a poor 
Russian, thirsting for water with the burning thirst wliich only gunshot 
wounds can cause, there came near him a French and an English 
soldier. As they met together, searching for their comrades, they 
looked into his face, and he looked eagerly into theirs, and said, 
'Christos ! ' Ah ! sir, God be thanked for that name, the name which 
is above every name, which in all varieties of language we recognize 
as the name of Him ' whose we are, and whom we serve.' 

But, sir, you will pardon me for leaving so long the resolution which 
you committed to me, and yet I do not think I have wandered from the 



312 MEMOIli OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

spirit of it. It is, that ' to this land the Providence of God is bringing 
great numbers from foreign countries to reside among us, many of them 
without the Bible.' Such is the preamble. Who is doing this ? What 
is the reason that these people come from so many countries, that your 
Secretary, according to ordinary speech, but not according to the higher 
diction of Christian philanthropy, calls foreign countries ? Why is k 
that they come here? It is ' the providence of God;' the same 
providence that of old laid the foundations of the earth ; the providence 
of Him who walked amongst the trees of the garden of Eden, and talked 
Avith our first father ; the providence of Him who gathered our second 
family into his ark, the same type of that ark Avhich is to gather the 
saved out of all nations ; the providence of him who said to Abraham, 
'in thy seed, (not in thy seeds, as to many, but unto thy seed, as of one) 
' in thy seed shall ail nations be blessed ; ' the providence of Him who 
sent his only begotten Son with good tidings ' which shall be to ail 
peoples ; ' that ' providence brought these people to our shores.' 

Who are they whom you call foreig7iers? Are they not children of 
our first father, Adam? If we rejoice in the blessings of the gospel that 
was first preached to Abraham, in the blessings of that gospel heralded 
at our Saviour's birth, we must acknowledge them as those to whom the 
gospel was sent as unto us. We have no right to exclude them, they 
come here to their Father's land ; they come here to the tents of their 
brethren ; they come here to join that company. I trust, at least, that 
many, with God's blessing, will join that ' commonwealth,' in which 
' there are no mora strangers and foreigners, but citizens with the saints 
and of the household of God,' 

Now to come to the approximate fact of the illustration by which I 
have been endeavoring to show the comprehending, coalescing principle 
of this blessed religion of ours, combining with the providence of God. 
How long did this continent lie sleeping in the darkness of o'olivion? 
How long were the forests waving over the soil which the plough had 
never stirred? How long were these territories, now crowded with pop- 
ulous cities and smiling farms, the hunting-ground of the wild man, not 
less savage than tlie beast that he hunted? Almost as long as that law 
of gravitation was hidden from the knowledge of man ; almost as long as 
that great principle or element of electricity was hidden in mystery; 
almost as long as man was ignorant of the art of printing or the inapel- 
ling force of steam ; but it is but a little distance in the history of 
centuries that these great discoveries are a part. 



SYMPATHY WITH FOREIGNERS. 313 

At this time God opens this continent; and here He says to all nations 
of the earth, Here is a land where, for the first time since the institutions 
of human government, religion has been free from legal patronage or 
legal oppression ; here, where for the first time with intelligent insti- 
tutions, man has a right, under God, to be liis own ruler ; here is an 
asylum, like the blessed gospel, for every one that is under trouble and 
ignominy in the old world, to flee to and be at rest. 

I wish to say nothing severe of any one, but I am frank to say, I have 
no sympatliy with the spirit which says that the foreigner has no claim 
to our sympathy because he is a foreigner. Good, ancient George 
Herbert tells us that ' Man is God's image, but a poor man is Christ's 
stamp to boot.' And so I say wherever I see a human form, and human 
intellect, and human afiection beaming from the human countenance, 
There is my brotlier. But when I see a man that is a stranger, and 
licar the accents of a foreign tongue, I see the image of Him who for my 
sake was 'a stranger in the earth,' and ' liad not wliere to lay his head.' 
This is the sentiment which, to my faith, our religion enjoins. This is 
the sentiment which, as I believe, is the grand doctrine of our noble de- 
mocracy, for I love to use that word ; men pervert it, as they do other 
good words, but I rejoice to avow myself, in the same sentence, a 
Christian and a democrat. I mean, by that term, a man who ac- 
knowledges liis fellow-man as his equal, and is willing to give to every 
man the rights whicli God lias given to him. Here we have in this land, 
by the providence of God, the nations coming together. 

Look at the nations of the world that have been separated ; look at 
India sleeping, or convulsed in a delirium of half sleep, half wakeful- 
ness ; look at those nations wliich sliow something of a civilization that 
they have had in these former ages from the light of science — for next 
to Egypt, India was once the most enlightened, if indeed India were not 
the mother from whom Egypt learned her philosophy. But what has 
India become ? What has the exclusive nation of China become ? 
Shut up to themselves, witli no minglement of foreign bloods, no mingle- 
ment of foreign habits and manners, in their own sameness from day to 
day, without impulse, without variety, without stinmlus, there they lie 
what they Avere, nay, more dead than thej^ were, thousands of years ago. 
But, sir, you may take, as you very well know, Tacitus or Cjesar, and 
you shall read in their writings the description of the Gaul, the German, 
and the Spaniard, and tliey are exceptis ezcipiendis, and you can know 
them at this day by the same cliaractcristics. 



314 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

They have more learning, more science, more religion certainly, but 
the spirit of the people is one, and as peoples they have risen but little, 
or from their risings they have fallen back, and made comparatively 
little progress. I mean progress in those great arts of comprehensive 
civilization and philanthropic philosophy which elevate the soul above 
the jealousies of earth, and combine men in the unities of Love. But 
why is it? Because shut up, each family to itself, they have married 
with their own blood, and the curse of the incest is upon them. But 
cross that narrow channel and enter our own motherland, at least the 
grandmother land of most of us here, and what a different condition is 
presented there ! We have our motherland, but we delight to think of 
the grandmother-land from which our fathers came. Cross, I say, to 
England, and if you choose — and I wish that you would — abide a 
little while in the states of the Low Countries; for the history of those 
Low Netherlands is, in the respects of v/hicli I am about to speak, almost 
identical with that of England. 

If you look at the origin of tbece people, on their little sandbars, 
beginning to wrest from the ocean the patrimony which they have be- 
queathed to their children, building in the course of successive cen- 
turies those dykes which have cost more than If they had been erected 
of solid brass from their foundation to their top, you will find that it 
was the blood of a free people of different blood driven on the one hand 
by the encroachments of the Koman empire, and on the other by the 
tyranny of feudal oppressors ; yes, you will find that it was the com- 
bination of the blood of free people that made the early cities of 
Holland what they were ; that taught them the combination of mutual 
rights ; and, above all, taught them that union of free independent 
sovereignties from which our fathers learned the best secrets of our 
own unparalleled prosperity. It may be more familiar, however, to 
the memory of those to whom I speak — for it is not every one that 
has the courage to penetrate within the comparative obscurity which 
is hung over the shores of the Dutch, and but for the recent brillian- 
cies of genius which have been shed by Motley and Prescott upon their 
history, we should know comparatively little of them. 

Pass into England, and see what you have there. There are the 
ancient Britons, and traces of a race, if not races, yet more ancient. 
There you have the blood of the Saxons and the Angles, of the Danes 
and the Normans, and the Flemings, and the fugitive Huguenots. 



AMERICA THE HOME OF ALL RACES. 315 

You have them mingled ; their names, the names of foreigners, stand 
high in their annals ; and while the genuine Saxon is yet the basis of 
the people, every contributor to a combined race has marked its hon- 
orable position high amidst the catalogue of the nobles and the clergy 
and the learned jurists. 

But sir, what has made England what she is ? Men are proud to 
talk of Anglo-Saxon blood ; men are proud to talk of commercial 
enterprise, and all that sort of thing ; but I go behind Anglo-Saxon 
blood ; I go to that which inspires enterprise, commerce, to the 
minglement of bloods in the British people. That is what has made 
them what they are. And here sir, God in this land of ours is work- 
ing out a far more majestic purpose. England may do very well for 
an experiment upon a small scale, as a sculptor would model the gi- 
gantic statue of his imagination in a lump of plaster ; but England is 
too little, sir, for the outworking of God's providence in that respect. 
There is a necessity for a wide continent, for a more comprehensive 
system of government ; and God has found it here — found it here, 
sir. He knew it from the foundation of the earth. He predestined 
it when he predestined the triumph of his Son over all nations. God 
has given us here the theatre for this stupendous development. Here 
they come from all lands — all the children of our father Adam — all 
objects of our Saviour's love — all brethren of the same humanity. 
Here they come, talking as they land more languages, tenfold, than 
the languages of Babel, but soon learn to coalesce in a common 
tongue our noble English, which is to be the language of the whole 
world. Yes, sir, here they come, the best bloods of all nations of 
men — men who would rather be poor than under an oppressive gov- 
ernment ; men who say, * Let me suffer, let the wife of my bosom 
suffer, but let us find a home for our children where they can rise.' 

These are the people that come to us, the more than noble army 
of martyrs, men and women who suffer for posterity ; and as I be- 
lieve, though they know it not, suffer for God in their coming across 
the sea and in encountering the difficulties of a new land. These are 
the people whom we arc to meet upon our shores. These are the 
people who bring us elements of excellence from every race ; that 
here we may see the vivacity of the Gaul, the staid independence of 
the German, the athletic character and determination of the Briton, and 
all the other varieties of human virtue combining to form, not 



316 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

many nations, but one ; to make, as God in his grace made out of 
the Jew and Gentile, out of all nations ' one new man : ' so making 
peace ' between all nations.' 

Now, sir, how are we going to bring these men into this union ? 
It is by the power of the Bible which you print, by the power of that 
blessed name ' Christos,' which brought tears to the eyes of every one 
of you a moment since, the gospel which never fails to melt under the 
force of Christian love and in the alembic of God's fervent truth, all 
elements into one amalgam, that it may adorn with the most pre- 
cious richness the brow of Christ, the King of nations and the King 
of saints. We need the Bible to do this ; and the Bible will do it. 
AVe can talk to them, sir. Go to Washington, go to your universities, 
and tell them to give you the selection of their proudest men and 
their most accomplished interpreters ; and all Washington and all 
your universities combined cannot give us men that can talk to one- 
tenth part of these people ; but your Society can talk to each of 
them, be he what he may. Find out his country and his tongue, and 
when he comes to your Society for his language, it is in your library ; 
you have the Book of Life there for him ; give it to him. 

Let us speak plainly of the claims of these people upon us. There 
was, far back in the brief history of our beloved land, but not far 
back in the history of the world's ages, a band of determined men 
who cast the anchor of their little vessel near to a cold and barren 
rock. The December winds were howling through their shrouds, and 
scattering ice upon their decks, and they could scarcely hold their 
canvass, which was frozen stiff as sheets of iron. They looked upon a 
bleak shore ; they saw no trace of human brotherhood ; they heard 
no sound of a human voice, except it be the howl which they kncAv 
not whether it was a man or the wild beasts ; they saw no trace of 
man, unless it might be some broken arrow whose barb was red with 
human blood. They landed there; and on that rude and barren 
shore they knelt as * strangers and foreigners ' unto the stranger's 
God ; giving worship to him and to his kingdom, and trusting in 
his providence. 

Their story has had the advantage of more eloquence, more poeti- 
cal illustration ; but not far from the same period there came those 
more prosaic in their character, but not a whit less generous in their 
noble virtues, to this very spot where we are met ; men who loved 



GIVE STKANGEUR THE lUBLE. 317 

their Bible ; men, every one of whom had their Bible clasped and 
riveted, as though they \wre determined to keep the devil himself 
from depriving them of their comforts ; men Avho before they had been 
here many days, set up the worship of God in its simplicity ; — I mean 
the men of Holland, who, in many respects, deserve the credit of be- 
ing as much the moral progenitors of this land, as the pilgrim 
fathers of New England, for whom such a monopoly of generation 
has been claimed. 

And there also came at successive times the Presbyterians from 
England and Ireland, Scotland and France, with the church-loving 
Cavaliers. They were all strangers ; but, O sir, what must have been 
the thoughts of those pilgrims kneeling by that desert rock ! What 
must have been the thoughts of those Hollanders as they knelt on the 
shores of that narrow peninsula, which is now crowned with this ma- 
jestic city ! Alone, far from their native land, far from the churches in 
which their fathers worshipped, far from the familiar speech of neigh- 
bor and friend — alone, alone, — yet not alone, for the ' Universal 
Father' was with them, this was their consoling thought, that 
wherever they went, whatever soil they touched, they got no farther 
from God. They were as near Him on the shores of Plymouth, and 
the Bay of Massachusetts — or whatever the name was at that period — 
amidst the woods of Virginia, on the sea islands of Carolina, or among 
the mountains of Pennsylvania ; they were as near God there as 
though they knelt in the cathedral, whose flags had been hallowed by 
the tread of the generations of a thousand years. 

And this is what I ask you to do in my resolution for these people 
who come here : meet them upon the shores ; meet them with that 
one Word of God, which they can all understand, and which speaks 
to all, and tells them they are not strangers, that God is here, that 
the blessing of God upon the strangers, our fathers, is ready to rest 
upon them, strangers though they seem, and upon their children for 
ever ; and thus shall we call perfect a nation which shall present to 
the world such a spectacle as no Papal universahsm, no Roman em- 
pire, has ever equalled. 

One word more : This is but a type again of that grandest triumph 
of all, when God shall throw open the doors of his own House, with its 
many mansions, for all his cliildren ; when, in a peace more joyous 
than that which welcomed the long-wandering prodigal home, the 



318 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETIIUXE, D. D. 

wide hall shall be filled for the banquet and the festival ; when there 
shall come those of all kindreds, and cl-imes, and tongues, under 
the face of the whole heavens : when all ages of the past, meeting with 
all the ages of posterity, all time, all lands, all people, shall come to- 
gether, no longer separated, no longer multiplicity, but one in Christ, 
one in the love of God, through the Redeemer. O sir, I love to 
think of that time ! How my soul goes out beyond the pettiness of 
party strife ! How I seem to rise even in my littleness, as the morn- 
ing bird on its light wing rises above the turmoil and hurly-burly of 
men, to sing unto God! How my heart goes out, exults beyond all 
these restrictions of a sinful world, and rejoices, as I recognize myself 
no longer a citizen of a narrow province, no longer as confined in my 
nationality to a few brother tribesmen, but as one of the vast family of 
God, the universal family of faith in Christ Jesus. How I rejoice 
as I anticipate that day when I shall be welcomed as I come near 
my Father's threshold — for we shall not come unwelcomed there — 
when I shall be welcomed by all these people that the religion of 
Christ has taught me to love upon earth ; nay, when not only these 
people, but when all the tribes of God's creation, when the inhabi- 
tants of distant worlds, that have looked upon us with interest like 
that of the angels, when these shall come in from every province of 
God's universal empire, his spiritual children, we shall be one, gathered 
together in Christ, the Son of God, and therefore heir of all things ; 
the Son of Man, and therefore our Elder Brother — when we shall be 
all gathered together in one, and God be the Father, and his glory 
the joy of the universe for ever." 



ANONYMOUS ATTACK. 319 



CHAPTER Xn. 

ANONYMOUS ATTACK. 

Our search among the papers of Dr. Bethune has brought 
us up to the beginning of the year 1855. He was a man like 
the rest of us, and did not escape calumny. During the hol- 
idays he had attended a dinner of the St. Nicholas Society, 
where, according to Mr. H. T. Pierrepont " his speech was 
of a much more serious order than was usual at our anniver- 
saries ; he spoke as a true son of New York and gave many 
references to history to the credit of the Dutch Nation." 
Yet, because he attended a public dinner, a paragraph 
appeared in a Hartford paper in which the writer, under the 
secure cover of " anonymous," made insinuations against 
Dr. B. both gross and cruel. This attack called forth a 
storm of indignation from all quarters ; and perhaps the pastor 
would not have known how many true and appreciating 
friends he had, had it not been for this unjustifiable slander. 
But apart from his well-ordered and scholarly speech, the 
laborious and exemplary life of the Doctor is the best reply ; 
indeed it were scarcely worth while to make a record of it 
except as one of the sore trials to which his sensitive nature 
was exposed, and to get his view of such attacks. Probably 
no two men when made the object of such moral assassination 
behave in the same way. One, who was in the habit of find- 
ing such jets of venom among his morning letters, when he 
did not know the hand looked for the signature, and when 



320 MEMOIR OF GEO. Vr. BETIIUNE, D. D. 

he saw none, instantly dropped the paper into the fire, and 
that was the end of it. But not every one has this self- 
command, while many of these poisonous stabs are delivered 
through the medium of the dail}^ press. 

The editor who lends himself to the transaction is rarely 
worth powder and shot, and the intended victim cannot 
always obtain redress. It may, perhaps, not be uninterest- 
ing to our readers to see one of the ways in which a '' vcn- 
omed stab" is sometimes parried, and we insert a few 
paragraphs which were found in Dr. B's handwriting among 
his papers ; although we have no certainty that it was writ- 
ten in reference to the present occasion, it carries its own 
commentary. 

TO AMERICANUSC?). 

"You have written an anonymous letter, a dishonorable act which 
none but a coward would be guilty of. I might well take no heed of 
a charge so silly, coming from a source so mean, and should not, but 
for charity to point out the injustice you have done, that you may be 
deterred from writing anonymously again. 

You must be strangely ignorant to suppose that a speaker (unex- 
pectedly called upon) toward the close of a long, excited meeting,is 
responsible for the very words into which a tired reporter condenses his 
remarks. Had you been present you would have known that I was 
the most reluctant speaker of the evening, and that a hoarseness com- 
pelled me to stop suddenly. This is stated in one, at least, of the 
newspapers. Had you heard me you would also have known that I 
levelled the charges of gross immoralitj' against the Continental des- 
pots who are combining against the freedom of the people. The re- 
porter of the Express lias lefl out Continental but retained the sense. 
Is Victoria of Continental Europe, is she a despot ? Is she one qi the 
conspirators against the freedom of the people? 

As for the conspiring despots, I excepted Nicholas, whose personal 
habits are chaste ; but of which of the rest can it be said that they are 
not vile, murderous, or perjured ! My charge did not include the 
reigning houses of Sweden, Spain, Portugal ; liut you know little of 



ADVICE TO AN ANONYMOUS WPJTER. 321 

present history, if you consider them other than debauched persons. 
You might make a stand for the weak but obstinate King of Prussia, 
whose personal life is not impure, had I not spoken of families or dy- 
nasties rather than single Individuals ; yet he is ' steeped in perjuries ' 
with the * blood of thousands ' on his deceitful soul. 

Your last accusation is as ridiculous as it is false. Assuming (what 
is utterly untrue even according to the report in the Express) that I 
intended the Queen of Great Britain in my denunciation, you charge 
me with ' traducing the land of my forefathers.' Is the Queen of Great 
Britain or her court, the land of my ancestors ? If I should say, as I 
might, that George IV., all the Georges except the III., were de- 
bauched, would that be calumniating Scotland^ I am a Scotchman 
sir, a title I value next to that of an American, by birth. I have never 
spoken of Scotland but with affectionate praise. No deserving per- 
son with a Scotch accent has ever asked my help and been refused it. 
When Scotland was threatened with famine, I wrote the Pennsylva- 
nian Address which brought in for her relief $28,000. Of that sum 
my immediate personal exertions raised $1,200; and now I am ac- 
cused by a malicious anonymous green-horn with calumniating the 
land of my fathers ! 

You sign yourself Americanus ; but I cannot believe that you are 
a native-born citizen, though, possibly, you may have been natu- 
ralized. 

You will, perhaps, think my language to you uncharitably harsh 
and so, unbecoming ; but you are beyond the pale of charity. You are 
not a many but an anonymous thing. You have no name, and, there- 
fore, no character, no conscience, no feelings. You excuse yourself by 
saying that a public speech is open to public comments ; but you are 
not the public, your charges are not public, you could not make them 
public without assuming a responsibility from which you hide ; while a 
public speaker stands out openly. Had you written to me over your 
own name as a gentleman, I would gladly have responded kindly and 
set you right. 

Take my advice and never write another anonymous letter. It is a 
crime which nolhing can justify, except it be in reply to what is anony- 
mous. If you have anything which you feel bound to say, put your 
name to it, and it will have as much respect as your name is worth ; 
21 



322 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUXE, D. D. 

but if you say what you are ashamed or afraid to indorse with your 
credit, you make yourself either a coward, or a knave, or both." 

However unjustifiable, however silly, still there is a 
wonderful power in an evil report ; it will travel much 
farther and be more eagerly related than the consistent life 
of godliness. 

In the middle of the year the pastoral relation with the 
*' Church on the Heights'' became disturbed. To external 
appearance that church was in the highest state of prosper- 
it3\ Its services were well sustained, and the audiences 
crowded, its benevolence large, and Sunday schools expand- 
ing, but the anxious eye of the pastor beheld signs of alarm. 
Contrary to his advice, the edifice had been more costly 
than was intended, and a heavy debt rested upon it ; this 
made it necessary to place a high rental upon the seats, and 
caused dissatisfaction. Perhaps the spiritual state of the 
cono-rearation was not as hip^h as the earnest soul of the 
minister, although in this respect it was not inferior to 
others equally surrounded with social temptations, and oc- 
cupied with business cares. We are not then surprised to 
hear that a proposition from certain New York brethren to 
Dr. Bethune, praying him to come over and help them to 
build up a church in Ninth street, was early listened to 
with favor. There must have been a great attraction in 
New York as the metropolis of the nation, but more, he was 
her favorite son. When he was assailed by cynics in Phil- 
adelphia, he only appeared in New York, and an immense 
audience rose and greeted him with rounds of applause ; and 
never had he come to his native city without finding re- 
sponsive and loving hearts to welcome him. "Dear New 
York," he exclaimed, " Few of you can remember it as I do, 
"when we ran down the Flattenberg on our little sleighs, or 



LETTER TO HIS BROOKLYN CONSISTORY. 323 

skated on Lispenard's meadows and Barr's pond, and 
through Leonard street, up town. It is my birthplace, the 
home of my j^outh, and the asylum of my earliest affec- 
tions." The flattering' invitation to his home was serious 
and business-like, quite sufficiently so as to necessitate imme- 
diate action. The first step was to prepare a communica- 
tion for the consistory of his church — a paper very decided 
in tone, and which would imply that the pastor had made 
up his mind to sever the relation ; but this paper being 
placed in the hands of a prudent friend, Mr. F. I. Hosford, 
was probably at his remonstrance withdrawn, and in the 
middle of September, the greatly modified letter, which we 
subjoin, was transmitted to his church officers : 

To THE COXSISTORT OF THE ClIURCH ON THE HEIGHTS, BROOKLYN, L. I. 

" DearBkethren : — It is not without pain that I address you on a 
subject which occasions my deep solicitude, and now requires your 
kind, candid consideration. 

I inclose a communication laid before me by a number of gentle- 
men, friendly to the Dutch church, in Xew York, which sufficiently 
explains its object and importance as relating to the interests of our 
denomination, and to myself, as one of its ministers. 

You will agree with me, that while our immediate connection may 
be with a particular congregation, we owe, under God, allegiance to 
the church at large, and that our personal convenience or preferences 
should not bias our judgment respecting the larger duty. 

Our first question in all cases should be directed to Him whose we 
are, and whom we should serve: "Lord, what wilt thou have us 
to do.^" Yet among the methods of ascertaining the answer of 
heavenly wisdom, not the least is taking Christian comisel of wise 
men, especially of those whose official position gives them ecclesiasti- 
cal authority, and whose tried friendship assures their sincerity. In 
this spirit I ask your advice, and hope that you will give It. 

The expediency of my attempting by divine help, the building up 
of a church in New York under the present auspices, is argued at 



324 MEMOIU OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D, D. 

length in the communication of our friends — -and, as you are not ig- 
norant of the circumstances, I need say nothing further on that point. 

The effect, which such a transfer of my services would have on our 
church in Brooklyn, you are of all persons the best able to judge of; 
consequences are in the hands of God, and our part is to do our du- 
ty, leaving results to Him. 

I may, however, and should speak frankly of myself, as the one 
whose action is to be determined. 

There are reasons, which so far as I can allow my personal feelings 
and private relations to sway me, urge me to go to New York. The 
hope of being better able to watch over the comfort of my beloved 
mother, now very aged and infirm, is a consideration that bears 
strongly upon me. She will not come to me in Brooklyn (and she 
has reasons for this, the force of which I cannot deny,) and so, if we 
are to be near each other, I should go to her in New York. 

I have also some warm and attached friends in my native city, 
whose society I am now almost wholly deprived of, among whom it 
would be very pleasant to spend my declining years. 

I cannot but think, — I liave long thought, that I am not adapted as 
a man or a minister, in the pulpit or out of it, to the community of 
Brooklyn, and that my usefulness suffers by the prejudices (to use a 
mild word) wdiich surround me. Human nature is mainly every- 
where the same, but a larger sphere v/ould be likely to contain more 
of those who, for any reasons, might prefer to avail themselves of my 
ministry, and sympathize with the course which my conscience binds 
me to pursue. My residence in Brooklyn has not been a happy one, 
and neither my church nor my house there, free from painful associa- 
tions. 

When the enterprise of our church was begun, I entered into it 
with expectations which I supposed warranted, and with distinctly 
avowed plans concerning ray views of duty, as well as of church poli- 
cy. The disappointments that follov,'ed greatly embarrassed me, dis- 
tracting my mind and heart, occupying my time, and (still worse) 
throwing me sometimes into opposition of views entertained by some, 
if not of all, of you brethren. As I had carefully and explicitly de- 
clared at the beginning the methods which I should feel bound to 
pursue, I have kept to them ; and although you have iiad much con- 
sideration for my convictions, I fear that somethues I may have been 
regarded as too persistent, if not unreasonable. 



REASONS FOR A CHANGE. 325 

My position has, in consequence, been painful, liable to reproacli, and 
disagreeable surmise, and is likely to continue so as long as I retain it. 
I should, perhaps it may be said, have acted in view of this at an earlier 
period ; but our friend Mr. M. will tell you, that at the time alluded 
to, I put into his hands, for presentation to you, what was equivalent to a 
resignation, which at his dissuasion I did not press. I wish it, however, 
to be distinctly understood, that I was then, and have always been, ready 
myself to withdraw, rather than that any one of the congregation should 
consider my remaining inconsistent with their right. 

Disappointment in the plans on which I felt myself warranted in unit- 
ing with the enterprise of a church at Brooklyn, has severely embar- 
rassed me in various ways ; and now, should I remain with you, will put 
me to the necessity of some severe toils, which I might avoid by a change 
of pulpit. 

I am now fifty years old, and ministers at my time of life do not often 
receive calls from such churches as are adapted to their habits, and 
should I refuse the present opportunity, and, subsequently feel myself 
obliged to resign my present charge, I should be most probably obliged 
to retire from pastoral duty. 

I cannot conceal from you, that the poor attendance in our lecture- 
room has given me much anxiety. It would seem that I have not the 
power to draw our people to their devotional services on week evenings. 
My remonstrances, varied in every way I could tliink of, have, as the 
result shows, been regarded with indifference ; and that, not by the care- 
less only, but those prominent in both church and congregation. I have 
been accustomed (and I think rightly) to consider such a state of things 
as indicative of a decay in the power of a pastor over the people, and 
that the cause of it lies in liim, rather than in them. Without a revival 
in the devotional services of the church, we cannot hope for a blessing. 
Let me then go, brethren, rather than remain, if I am in the way of 
spiritual good to you ani the people. I have done, in the lecture-room, 
as well as I could, pnd so cannot promiGC to do better. 

Brethren, I have opened my heart to you frankly. Perhaps, jou will 
think me unduly sensitive, on some points, at least. But we ministers 
are a sensitive race ; some of us, it may be, more so than others. Our 
wealth lies in principles, affections and sentiments. There we are most 
vulnerable, and suffer most. IMy former pastoral history has been such 
as to unfit mc for trials, before never eucountered. 



326 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETIIUNE, D. D. 

On the other hand, there are strong motives disinclining me to leave 
Brooklyn. 

When I began with the pressure of an enormous debt, which, con- 
trary to what I had supposed an understood agreement, had been put 
upon us, I did not do it otherwise than in a spirit of self-sacrifice, in- 
tending to try the desperate experiment, and afterwards seek compara-' 
tive rest elsewhere. But as I pursued my Avork, my heart grew to it, 
and to the people who gatliered under my care. The numbers guided 
into the fold by my pastoral hand, the unaffected kindness manifested to 
me by many, the scenes of joy and sorrow in which I have sympathized 
with them, the memories of the precious dead, whom living I had learned 
to love, the attention not unfrequently accorded to my Sabbath teach- 
ings, the faithful zeal of our young people in enterprises of religious 
charity, the prayers that have been put up for me, and the prayers I have 
put up for you all, the very pains, and sufferings, and reproaches, and 
labors I have gone through for your sake, all have endeared me to some 
of you, but far more have endeared you all to me. 

The Sabbath school and missionary enterprises, recently begun and 
carried on by our people under your lead, brethren, have done more 
than anything else in our history, to soothe my anxieties. We can 
never despair of a church, which puts the cause of mercy first, and it- 
self second. If such is to be your future policy, you will have 'the 
blessing, whatever else happens to you. 

The recent, and, as I understand, (inform me if I am mistaken) suc- 
cessful effort to pay all the debt of the church, excepting that for the 
ground, puts us, financially, just where I was promised that we should 
be when the churcli was complete. Only now, is the church pecuniarily 
in the condition in which alone I engaged to be its minister. We have 
passed through sad trials to reach this point. But the character of the 
effort which has thrown off the incubus that lay so heavily and long on 
our strength, has deeply affected me. So many have united, and all 
of them contributed so liberally, so much more liberally than we 
could have hoped, that I regard your congregation as strong, harmoni- 
ous, consolidated, and of a most generous spirit. I should be most in- 
sensible, did I not feel personally and warmly grateful for the satisfac- 
tion derived from the result, but especially from the persons and means 
by which it has been reached. 



COUNSEL REQUESTED. 327 

I am also most conveniently domesticated in the house provided by 
the kind care of many friends, for the comfort of my invalid wife and 
myself. I can never hope to find a dwelling better adapted to our pe- 
culiar necessities ; and although, with all its attractions, it has been the 
occasion to me, in some respects, of pain, in other respects, of embarass- 
ment, yet it is very pleasant to us as a memorial of kindness, and has 
been hallowed by many an hour of domestic enjoyment and religious re- 
tirement. 

Thus, you see, my brethren, how my feelings and preferences alter- 
nate. I wish to do my duty. I wish to forget, so far as I can, all but 
the kindness I have received and the happiness I have enjoyed. I can 
truly say that no ambitious motives tempt me. I wish to do my duty, 
and in circumstances where I shall be least hindered in acting out what 
are now to me inflexible rules of duty. 

If it be my duty to go to the enterprise now proposed to me, and at- 
tempt to build up, before my work on earth is done, another church for 
my Master's honor, I am ready to go ; but I shall not tear myself away 
from my present charge without a bleeding heart. 

If it be my duty to remain with you, I am ready to do so with affec- 
tionate zeal ; though it will be at a sacrifice of private relationships, and 
temporal interests— of the latter, more than appears on the surface. 

Brethren, notwithstanding my errors and infirmities, you are my 
friends. You are the friends of the Dutch Church. You are the over- 
seers of the flock dear to us all. Advise me as a man and as a minister. 
I shrink from doing anything that may provoke your censure ; nay I am 
unwilling to do — I cannot do anything in this matter without your approv- 
al. 

But I expect from you the conscientious exercise of large and liberal 
judgment. Whatever be the result, I trust that we shall ever be united 
in the best bonds ! 

Your brother and servant in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, 

George W. Bethcne. 
Claveeack, September 13, 1855." 



The answer was promptly as follows 



328 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

*' Consistory room or the Church on the Heights. 

Brooklyn, Sept. 17, 1855. 
George W. Bethune. D. D. 

Reverend and dear sir : The Consistory of this church have re- 
ceived, and endeavored in the fear of God, and with love for his church, 
and for you their pastor, to give to your communication of the 13th inst., 
and the accompanying documents, that attention which the nature and 
importance of the subject demanded, and which you so candidly request- 
ed ; and although, from the necessity that existed, imperious as it seemed 
to them of an early answer, they have been unable so fully to present 
their views and arguments as otherwise they might have done, yet, they 
feel a greater confidence in this expression of their views, from the fact 
that they are the unanimous conviction of the members of the Consistory. 

We do indeed, in the language of your communication, feel ourselves 
your ' friends'. Yv^e trust the views we suggest for your adoption, are 
such as will, if acted upon, prove us your judicious advisers. 

It is almost impossible for us on this subject — a matter so dear to our 
hearts — to lay aside all personal desires and influences, but we have en- 
deavoured impartially, as the friends of the Church to which we belong, 
and as the 'overseers of the flock dear to us all', to meet the question, 
you so fairly and frankly present. 

Candour compels us to admit that there is great force and weight in 
the arguments presented by the gentlemen who have invited you to the 
field of usefulness in New York : and we use no flattering words when 
we say that we cannot reasonably doubt that your abilities and eloquence 
would soon draw around you in that commercial metropolis, a congre- 
gation in which you would doubtless be happy and useful to a great 
degree, while your presence there, would, we feel well assured, be of 
great service to the interests of the Dutch Church. We are not then 
blind or deaf to the prospects in that communication opened, nor to the 
views by those gentlemen expressed. Nor are we unmindful, dear sir, 
of the peculiar temptations and trials that have befallen you while with 
us ; temptations and trials, not easily to be borne we admit ; but in which 
you have had our sympathies, and those of the whole congregation — and 
which we now fondly hope are removed, so that they will no more 
trouble you hereafter. 

We feel persuaded, dear sir, that you do yourself, if not the inhabi- 



LETTER OF THE CONSISTORY. 329 

tantsof this city, injustice in supposing them incopable or umvilling to 
appreciate your services in their midst ; and we trust the reasons we 
shall presently urge, will eradicate effectually any such impressions from 
your mind. When first, dear sir, it was proposed to you to become a 
pastor of a church in this city, it was with hesitation, almost amounting 
to a conviction that you would not accept it, that the Henry street church 
sought for your aid ; and never can we forget, (whatever may be the final 
result) how unselfishly you put from you, other honorable, pressing, 
responsible positions, that you might give your energies, and devote the 
talents with which God had so liberally endowed you, towards the up- 
building of a weak, nay almost wholly broken-down church. You remem- 
ber, doubtless, as well as we, the position of that church as you found it ; 
but you do not, cannot know, as do some of us, the labors and struggles 
and efforts and prayers that had been made and offered, before it reached 
that sad condition — and apparently all had been in vain. Vv^'hen, thanks 
be to God, (for it was He alone who inclined your heart to it,) you 
entered into that then almost forsaken church, and became a shepherd to 
that flock, then without a shepherd's care. But if such was the condition 
of that particular church, what was the condition of the Dutch Church at 
large in this city and vicinity, prior to your advent? This was, sir, or 
rather should have been, a strong-hold of the Dutch Church. But where 
was its strength ? 

To particularize, would be invidious ; but we ask you, sir, frankly, 
where was there a flourishing Dutch church when you came among us ? 
And now, what is its state ? Can you not, sir, see its growth ; new 
churches where there were none before, strong churches where before 
there were weak ones, increased liberality of the former churches to 
benevolent objects, and a respect for the denomination in the community 
at large ? And all this, we cannot deny it, since you came. Shall we 
not say that, under God, you, dear sir, have been in a great measure 
the honoured means of infusing this spirit, and bringing about tliis result? 
We do not doubt it. And is all this nothing accomplished ? Is this work 
quite done ? We look in faith for greater things. 

But all this, had our own church not prospered, might have been 
of little avail in this expression of our views. An attentive observer 
of men and manners, as you are, cannot have failed of noticing ere 
this, that the population of Brooklyn, as a whole, is composed of that 



330 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

class of society, wlio are of middle life, and who not having yet (as a 
general thing) attained to any considerable wealth, are active, pros- 
pering, and vigorous ; they are of that class whose future is full of 
promise. More, too, than ordinarily are they attached to their 
churches and church-privileges, and but little do they look for those 
sources of public, united, and social pleasures, which are sought for 
in other cities. 

As a consequence of this state of things, it has followed, as of 
course, that dependant so much upon, and devoted so much to their 
church -privileges, the}^ have been gifted with a class of Divines of 
rarely equalled ability and worth. And it was needful that our 
denomination should, in this respect, be able to take a position with 
the other tribes. But this very fact, conjoined with a precedence 
that the other denominations had acquired over ours, by reason of 
our slothfulness and inactivity, rendered the undertaking by no means 
an easy one, of establishing a new church in the midst of a city 
already so thickly settled with churches. Nor could we, nor would 
we, do otherwise, God helping us, than erect a building, which, 
while it would be worthy of our position, should be a temple beauti- 
ful as it ought to be for the worship of our God, and the honor of His 
name. 

In addition to all this, it should not be forgotten that, although the 
Henry Street Church had, by the time you came there, become very 
much scattered, yet your coming among them, while it united them 
all readily, also made them feel the need of a larger place of worship, 
where more could enjoy your ministrations. This brought with it the 
necessity of buying and building, with its attendant expenses ; and 
the following necessity of gathering together from the community a 
surplus congregation, to fill a much larger than the old building. 

The history of the enterprise it is unnecessary to relate ; the 
liberality of the people was much more than in proportion to their 
means, and the building progressed. Nor were you, dear sir, with 
gratitude we remember it, ever wanting in your sympathy and co- 
operation. The subsequent serious failure of one of the artificers, 
the inadequate estimate of the cost, and the ever attendant contingent 
and unexpected expenses incidental to a building of this magnitude, 
presented, when it was completed, the unhappy truth to the minds 
of the people, that, while they had a beautiful place of worship, and 



LETTER OF THE CONSISTORY. 331 

a minister whose services they could not too highly appreciate, they 
were greatly, sadly indebted. This was doubtless a source of great 
evil to the church, of embarrassment to yourself (not the less so, 
because contrary to your well-founded expectations), and has, we 
cannot deny it, been the fountain from which have flowed the bitter 
waters that have seemed, at times, destined to destroy our prosperity. 
No doubt, many persons have been prevented by the fact of this debt 
alone, from forming a connection with us, and have gone to other 
churches, free or freer of embarrassment, who would have been, to 
us, of great service by their counsel and prayers. 

But now, thanks be to God, this source of trouble, anxiety and 
vexation, is removed, blotted out, a,nd will no more harass our 
minds, or stand as a beacon warning, those outside of our church to 
remain clear from us and free from our troubles. 

It is not necessary to repeat to you, dear sir, how this has been 
effected. Suffice it to say, that, but for you, we believe it could not 
have been done. It were idle to deny that our church is, much of it, 
composed of your personal admirers ; those who have no particular 
sympathy for the Dutch Church, but great affection and regard for 
you, and your ministrations. Those who, should you leave us, would 
speedily leave us, too ; and who, but that they had supposed you 
intended to remain with us, would have left us, unaided and alone, in 
this our time of embarrassment. Indeed, sir, the moment that the 
late unauthorized rumor got abroad, that you intended removing, all 
efforts lo progress in the liquidation of the debt were paralyzed ; and 
it was not until an assurance that the rumor was false had restored 
confidence again, that the committee were finally enabled to accom- 
plish their much-desired and zealously-pursued object. 

And now, dear sir, with your efforts, with God's blessing, what 
may we not look for? If, in our weakness, our love and liberality 
have abounded, what may we not expect now that we are strong, and 
have every reason to look for a large accession to our church from 
outside sources. 

You have doubtless observed, sir, as have we, the constant growth 
of our city, in the vicinity of our church ; a growth that must result, 
as it progresses, for the filling up of our own and other churche.^. 
You likewise, in looking around the church, and seeing the few old 
persons and great numbers of young, middle-aged and children, 



332 MEMOm OF GEO. W. BETIIUNE, D. D. 

cannot but have great and reasonable hopes for the prosperity of our 
church, from those who are now in early years, and who, as they 
attain to man's estate, will serve God, we trust, in their day and 
generation. 

Nor should we, nor can we, pass by the spiritual welfare of our 
church, best known to you, but gladly acknowledged by us. 

Dear pastor, can you look on those gathered into the fold through 
your ministrations, and not feel that you have been doing a work for 
God ? and can you believe that he has yet called you from this vine- 
yard, so needing your care, to untried fields ? 

And the liberality of our church, of which so gratefully you have 
sjDoken oftentimes. It is not, of course, such as that of wealthier 
congregations, but in the sight of God, we are judged in our gifts as 
to that we have, not as to that we have not. And is there anywhere, 
in any church, a greater spii^it of liberality, than ours has shown ? 
And who but you, dear sir, under God, has implanted and cultivated 
this spirit, and what future fruits may it not bring forth ? 

Then, too, sir, where will you find so faithful a band of the young 
men ' who are strong, and in whom the Word of God abideth,' as 
here ? Some of them , indeed, the fruits of your own ministry, and 
all nourished and fed by you. Active in every good word and work, 
ready to communicate are they ; apt to teach, and faithful in those 
good works in which we know your soul delights. 

But, dear sir, they need your fostering care still, and the enterprises 
in which they are engaged need your voice and counsel, or we fear 
for their ultimate success. 

And now, dear friend and pastor, with prosperity in our circum- 
stances, with God's blessing resting upon us, as we believe, with efforts 
to do good successfully at work and multiplying, with great hopes and 
confidence for the future, with a home in which we hope you may have 
much of happiness, and with our great labor accomplished, (thanks once 
more to Giod for it, who has inclined the libei-al hearts of his people) 
we, the trustees of this church, to whom its interests are committed, are 
to advise whether we shall voluntai-ily consent to break up all this, to 
c-urrender the instrument by whose aid all this, under God, has been ac- 
complished, the leader with whom we have come through our dangers 
into this promised land, that he may go elsewhere to incur new labor, 
to enter into new and untried fields, and to assume new responsibilities. 



DR. bethune's reply. 333 

Dear sir, can we with faithfulmess to this church, consent to allow 
you to leave us ? Would we not in so doing, verily be guilty before God 
and this people ? We cannot. We dare not. Wc pray you stay with 
us, we entreat you not to leave us. May our people be your people, 
may God himself be our God. 
With sentiments of greatest affection, sympathy and esteem, We are, 
Dear Sir, 

Your friends and fellow laborers. 

James Myers. 
John T. Moore. 
Peter Durtee. 
T. J. HosroRD. 
S. B. Stewart. 
J. A. Nixsen. 
Oscar D. Dike. 
Livingston K. Miller." 

'<To THE consistory OF THE CHURCH ON THE HEIGHTS. BROOKLYN. 

Dear Brethren : I received on Wednesday last, your answer to my 
communication, requesting your Christian and friendly counsel on the 
question whether I should or should not accede to the proposal from 
New York that I should co-operate with a number of gentlemen in 
undertaking to build up a new church there. You arc entitled to my 
hearty thanks, whicli I beg you to receive, for the very kind and patient 
manner in which you have addressed me ; and, on my part, I have given 
to your views my careful and prayerful consideration. The result is 
that I shall decline the invitation from New York, and send the good 
gentlemen from whom I received it, a reply to such effect this day. 

It becomes me, however, to say in all candor, that I have not reached 
this conclusion without anxious fears lest I might mistake the path of 
duty, and that I have been determined mainly by your determination. 
You have, and I have, we trust, endeavored to act conscientiously, and 
we must pray God to forgive any error of judgment into Avhich we may 
unwittingly have fallen. If you could have been prevailed on to allow 
of my removal, I am persuaded, that, with the blessing vouchsafed to 
Christian endeavors, a new congregation of our church would be gath- 
ered which might net a little subserve the cause of truth, and of our 



334 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

denomination in that great city; nor can I deny that I turn from the op- 
portunity of such enlarged usefulness with lingering regret. Our rela- 
tions, official and personal, are of such a sacred and affectionate char- 
acter, that I could not go without your approval, and since such ap- 
proval has been (though in the kindest terms) withheld, you have taken 
from me the largest share of responsibility. 

I am also sensible to a degree that you cannot be, of having, in com- 
pliance with your wishes, imposed on myself future labors, fitted neither 
to my years nor my circumstances ; but I look for my compensation, to 
the pleasure of obeying you whom I love, and of continuing to serve a 
people, every one of whom is dear to me, for reasons which will never 
cease to live in my heart. Those reasons I detailed to you in my pre- 
vious letter, and feel now more strongly even than before. Be assured, 
brethren, that I resume my pastoral care, for a little while suspended in 
thought, with an honest desire to do my duty hopefully and cheer- 
fully. 

I am obliged to add, that while I yield to the conclusion you have 
reached, I do not fully agree in all the views you have expressed; but 
retain most of the convictions stated in my letter. You will not believe 
me blind to the gratifying fact, that my ministrations are acceptable, far 
beyond their merit, to a large, perhaps increasing congregation ; but I 
am not more than I was, persuaded of my adaptation to the community 
of Brooklyn. You have, in your reply, substituted ' appreciation,' for 
adaptation, the term used by me. I deserve little appreciation ; but 
there are varieties in the character of communities, as in soils, requiring 
varieties of culture. My education, habits of thought and language, 
views of Christian policy, and methods of action, differ widely from 
those of the large majority of the community in which we live. The 
discrepancy exposes me to many an awkwardness, and to worse. Here, 
again, I shall need your support, and it may be, defence. 

There are many things in the spirit and enterprise of a large part of 
our church, which call for thanksgiving and joy, particularly, as you 
say, the exemplary conduct of our younger Christians ; but, oh ! breth- 
ren, the thinness of our prayer-meetings, tells another and a sadder 
story. I do not speak of the attendance on my weekly lectures, though 
it has tried me sorely, since that may be the fault of the preacher, 
though God knows I have tried to do my best. It is the union of the 



DR. bethune's reply. 335 

people in social prayer, which gives to their minister the most cheering 
expectation of blessing. Let us ourselves set an example of greater 
engagedness, and we may hope for that of others. 

You allude to the way in which our heavy debt was contracted, and 
I fully appreciate your honorable motive for speaking as you have 
done ; nor would I offer a remark on a subject which has already given 
all of us too much pain, were it not that your letter and mine which it 
answers will be preserved, on file or record of your body so (uninten- 
tionally on your part) making my statements to appear like inconsid- 
erate or immoderate complaints. Permit me, therefore, to remind 
you that * the inadequate estimate of cost,'' did not occur without 
remonstrance and warning from me at the earliest moment (of which 
proof exists), and that nothing intervened to lessen, as I think, the 
obligation, of the promise (on which I relied and without which I 
should never have joined the enterprise) that no debt except for the land, 
should remain when the church was dedicated. I could not be held 
responsible for errors against which I remonstrated, or for mistakes 
when I was not consulted. Neither do I think that the pecuniary 
obligation was the worst part of the difficulties springing from the debt, 
but believe that a greater degree of mutual confidence would have 
enabled us long before this to have extricated ourselves from the trou- 
ble. I do not say this, brethren, so much for the present as for the 
future that when any eye in other years may glance over the documents 
of this crisis, I may suffer no wrong. I trust with you that no root of 
bitterness may spring up from the past to try us again. 

Dear brethren, though I have written thus plainly, my heart assures 
you of its most affectionate response, to all your warm words. Trou- 
ble is inevitable, and often the narrow way is thickest strewn with 
thorn and thistle ; but Christian love and truth like yours are among 
the richest consolations aiTorded us by our sympathizing Lord. I fully 
rely on your assurances of regard and cooperation, offering you mine 
Avithout reserve. Let us pray for God's grace to sanctify past expe- 
riences, and, forgetting all that is behind except his goodness and our 
unworthiness, let us reach forward to things that are before, looking 
unto Jesus who is now seated at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 
whither all the articles of our faith lead us. 

Brethren, my heart's prayer and desire for our people is that they 
may be saved ! 



336 MEMOIR OF GEO, W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

Pray for me that out of my weakness strength may abound unto 
you and yours from God our Father, by Jesus Christ our Lord, 
through the Holy Spirit. Amen. 

Your brother and servant in the kingdom 
and patience of Jesus Christ, 

Geo. W. Bethune. 
Brooklyn, Sept. 22, 1855." 

This decision gave general satisfaction. The matter was 
not understood in its details by the public at large, but now 
that there was a thorough understanding between pastor and 
people, it seemed as if the connection between Dr. Bethune 
and his church would be inseparable. Brooklyn rejoiced 
over the result, and public feeling was displayed in various 
ways. 

One evening the Doctor was crossing by the Fulton 
Ferry ; upon entering the cabin he found all the seats occu- 
pied, when a thick, husky voice cried, '' Dr. Bethune, Dr. 
Bethune." Turning in its direction he found a man stand- 
ing, who said, "Doctor, take my seat; it is an honor to 
give such a man a seat ; ever since I heard of that big 
church in New York trying to get you away by giving a call 
of five thousand dollars, and you said, you'd see 'em d — d 
first, I have had great respect for you, and I tliink it an 
honor to give you a seat.'' It is needless to say that the 
well-meaning man was not in a condition to judge of the 
terms most appropriate for such an interview. 

Tiie Church on the Heights now went steadily onward in 
a career of unwonted prosperity, God blessed the preaching 
of his servant to the salvation of many, and the edification of 
his saints. The Sunday schools increased, and soon a mis- 
sion chapel was originated ; in fact his influence was 
exerted vigorously in extending his denomination by a line 
of churches from Greenwood to Newton Creek. 



LETTER FROM DR. TAYLOR. 337 

Perhaps we shall find no more suitable place to introduce 
the following incidents : 

Dr. Taylor to Dr. Bethune. ''Philadelphia, Jan. 4, 1858. 

My Dear Dr. Bethune : Soon after my removal to this city, when 
my study was located in the church edifice, 1 found among some old 
books in a closet, a small edition of the Book of Common Prayer, on 
the fly leaf of which your name was written just seven months before 
my 1 ttle eye saw the light of this world, namely, Jan. 1st, 1823. For 
your sake, as well as its own, I have kept it in good company on shelf 
and table, and sometimes, I trust that the fragrance of its precious 
things has perfumed a spirit that needed some such refreshment. Al- 
though neither of us is an Episcopalian, I trust that we have both 
grace and taste enough to appreciate what is excellent and venerable 
in the fair old symbol." 

Dr. Taylor was minister of the 3d Reformed Dutch Church 
in Philadelphia, and a passage from his funeral sermon for 
Dr. Bethune will be the best possible commentary upon 
the above letter. 

" A little sentence," says the preacher, " I found in- 
scribed by his own pen in 1823, in a small and almost worn- 
out copy of the Book of Common Prayer, which had been 
left by him on a quiet shelf in the study of this edifice. He 
thought it lost, but when informed of it, he wrote me that 
this volume, the gift of a dear relative, had been the sweet 
guide of his soul when first he found the Saviour. It was 
returned to him, and long afterwards was one of his pre- 
cious treasures. Since his death, an intimate friend has 
furnished me the same short prayer, copied from the Doc- 
tor's pocket Bible. It comes to us, therefore, under the 
double sanction of his Bible and his Prayer Book, and con- 
firms our impression of his stamp of piety. These are the 
words, proper words for any believing sinner in life and 
death— w^ords which are emphasized to-night by his infir- 



338 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE. D. D. 

mities, his struggles, his labors, his hopes, and his passage 
into the sinless life : 

' Lord pardon Avliat I have been ; sanctify what I am ; and order what 
1 shall be, that thine may be the glory, and mine the eternal salvation, 
through Christ our Lord." ' 

These words, from one of the ancient fathers, are insepa- 
rably connected with Dr. Bethune, in the memory of all who 
knew him, and of maay wlio have only heard of him ; and al- 
though they were selected from another, still of two men who 
walk along the way, one will pick up a bit of rock crystal, 
because it is large, and the other will stoop for a precious 
stone, because his trained eye recognizes its nobility of 
lustre. 

Our Doctor's speech, his discourses, lectures, sermons, 
and speeches, were thick with gems thus g-atliered, for 
his memory was not only retentive, but likewise well 
ordered, and tlie shelves accessible. 

We would willingly hope that the quiet which evidently 
reigned within about the time that this little remembrancer 
of the past came safely back, enabled him the better to give 
the consolation, of which Mrs. Bethune stood in need, for 
the afflicting death of her father, Col. Williams, which took 
place in March of this year. The house in Brooklyn was a 
house of mourning. A short and emphatic letter goes from 
it to assure its good friend, Dr. Dunglison, that he is not 
included among those whqse presence would be intrusive. 
These two of the original "five'' lived very near each 
other in soul, if not in body and a succession of notes ; those 
from Brooklyn apparently in crucial characters, those from 
Philadelphia resembling the cuneiform, were the means of 
discussion, sometimes serious, sometimes facetious, upon 
questions of orthography , orthoepy, etymology, syntax and 
prosody. 



1 



QUESTIONS m ORTHOEPY. 339 

Dr. Bethune was a very fine scholar, and did not hesi- 
tate to call even the great Dunglison in question, when 
there was any doubt of his soundness in orthoepy. 

Dr. B. to Dr. Dunglison. " Dec. 21, 1857. 

Dear Dr. Dunglison : My inclination to ask you a question is so 
strong that I cannot resist it. Your accuracy as an orthoepist has 
always excited my admiration, and led rae in most cases to follow 
your lead unhesitatingly. 

This has been the case in words ending in iasis, Elephantiasis, 
Psoriasis, you put the stress on the antepenultimate Psoria'sis. The 
lexicographers put it on the penult, Psori'asis. The rule is that deriv- 
atives from the future of verbs in aw making aaty follow that quantity 
\p(opiatj—a(ru)—ipc:Oi^ia(Tii. Please tcU me your reason for deviating 
from the rule." 

Dr. Dunglison to Dr. Bethune. "Philadelphia, Dec. 23, 1857. 

My Dear Doctor : I cheerfully, and at once, reply to the question 
you put to me ; and beg you to believe that I highly appreciate the 
kind remark with which it is accompanied. I have been not a little 
puzzled in regard to some of the suffixes in technical terms of Greek 
origin, and confess that I am so in regard to the one on which you 
consult me, iasis. • 

At the present day, it is almost always appropriated to skin diseases 
of a chronic kind, as in Petyria^^is, Elephantia*sis,Psoria^sis : of old it 
had much the same application. I do not know of a case in which the 
a was not marked — when marking was used — as short. In the case 
of Elephanti'asis, if I had not so marked it, I should have preferred 
Elephantiasis, because both the i and the a are by the lexicographers 
rendered short. Elephantiasis, and when the first edition of my ' Lie- 
tionary ' was published, I accented in the manuscript words, similarly 
situated, after that fashion — Car'diacus, Syr'iacus, gyp'tiacus, grave'o- 
lens, for example. Mr. Charles Folsom, however, who, at Cam- 
bridge, read the proofs once for me — I being in Virginia — changed the 
accent to the i ; and I did not always sufficiently attend to uniformity, 
so that I find, even now, one or two of these words accented one way; 
another, in another way ; and another without any accent at all. I 
should p?v/er, in such cases, the accentuation used in the MS. copy of 
my ' Dictionary ; ' but I find the custom so general to place the ac- 



340 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

cent — where two vowels come together — on the first; that I have — 
even in these words — been disposed to fall in with the custom — I 
mean the custom of those Avho are acquainted with all the circumstances 
of the case ; and I say Cardi'acus, &c. ; yet I have not got to say 
grav'eolens ; as I ought for uniformity's sake. The advantage of car'- 
diacus, grav'eolens, &c., is, that the accent shows you know the quan- 
tity of the vowels — that they are both short. 

In regard, however, to the words mentioned by you particularly, I 
am not in possession of a single Lexicon, English, German or Ameri- 
can, that gives any other pronunciation than Psoriasis, Elephantiasis, 
Poteyriasis, &c. ; nor have I ever heard them so called, except by one 
or two medical gentlemen here, who have now, however, determined 
to abandon the accentuation on the a : yet I doubt not that amongst 
the medical gentlemen in this country, short is the prevalent accentu- 
ation, whilst it is, I believe, unknown in Europe amongst educated 
physicians." 

Dr. B. to Dr. Dunglison. ''December 24, 1857. 

Usage is on your side dear Doctor, but I am not satisfied. Elephan- 
tiasis is as you say — but it is hardly from ey.edavTtaco-atTw the cause from 
the effect. Psoriasis is evidently from the verb xpupiau-airo Liddell and 
Scott give ipuioiams Hedericus (?) ^wpiaan I can't find it in Scapula. 

Labbe (?) I see shortens the penultimate et passim omnes — but look 
what he says on Elephantiasis. I have turned to Athenseus iv. 17. The 
line is 

n 6' ccrriatris tcTxdJff kuI aTeix(pvXa 

If the word be from the future of a o I do not see how all the author- 
ity of the modern world can make the a short. 

All the best wishes of the season to you and yours. 

Affectionately, Geo. W. Bethune." 

Dr. B. to Dr. Dunglison. *'N. Y, MarcJi 10, 1853. 

My Very Dear Friend : I have just heard of the overwhelming sor- 
row which has come upon you, and cannot restrain myself from express- 
ing at once the grief and sympathy I feel. I had known that Mrs. Dung- 
lison was ill, and anxiously, from time to time, without troubling you, 
procured information. It is but a few weeks since Mrs. Ehvyn wrote 
me most cheerful news, congratulating me on the hope I might cherisli 
of Mrs Dunglison's recovery. I thanked God for you both, and for your 



LETTER ON MRS. DUNGLTSON'S DEATH. 341 

children's sakes. You know dear Doctor, how esteemed — the word is 
too cold — how beloved your admirable wife was by all who had the hap- 
piness of seeing her in the home which she made so pleasant to her friends, 
and where we saw her fulfilling every duty with such cheerful tact and 
consideration. You know too, that of those friends, no one could have 
been more attached to Mrs. Dunglison, as well for lier own kindness as 
for the blessing she was to the life of my dear friend, the father of her 
children. I must rely on your knowledge of my heart for assurance of 
my deep sense of your desolation, and of my suffering for you. Words 
cannot express what you will believe that I feel. Never in all my ob- 
servation of people, have I known man and wife so fitted to make each 
other happy, or more devoted to each other's happiness ; and how you are 
to bear your bereavement God only knows. To God only can I go with 
my anxiety for you, and most devoutly have my poor prayers gone up, 
as they will often, that He who has smitten would sustain you. The world 
is valueless at such a moment, but He who made the heart and sees its 
inmost bitterness has commanded us tlirough his Son Jesus Christ, the 
man of sorrows and the God of comfort, to cast ourselves upon Him 
that we may find support in his bosom. 

Dear Doctor, we are passing away — our lives fail, we go gradually to 
the grave, let us look abroad and beyond the present scene, and assure 
ourselves through the grace of God, of abetter inheritance, where death 
cannot reach us, and sorrow cannot come, because there, there will be no 
more sin. It was but a day or two ago that I was thinking of your dear 
daughter who left you for heaven, and remembering thankfully that I had 
been of some use to her in preparation for a better life. Mrs. Lawrence 
(Benj.Eichards' daughter) came in, and some not unpleasant tears were 
shed by us both, while speaking of that dear child, whose face was so 
often upturned to mine as I preached the gospel to her willing ears. Now 
the mother and daughter are united. Let us try to follow them, my friend. 
I am pained that I did not know soon enough to be among those who 
were near you when the precious dust was laid in its resting place. Had 
I known, nothing short of absolute inability could have prevented me 
from going on. Mrs. Bethune joins me in assurances of sympathy. 
Your greatly attached and affectionate friend, 

George "W. Bethune. 
RoBLEY Dunglison, M. D. " 



342 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETIIUNE, D. D. 

On the nth Sept. 1854 Dr. Bethune writes to Dr. Dung- 
lisoii to aid him in procuring a good physiological account 
of" Laughter'' or '*' Mirthfuhiess". He wished also to know 
if Dr. D. could remember a good treatise on Ridicule, its uses 
and abuses, as it came within a plan of writing he had just 
then. 

Dr. Dunglison to G. W. B. "Philadelphia, Nov. 27, 1854. 

My Dear Doctor : I have in my library two books, which, I think 
would interest you in your researches. One of these is on the 'Epidemics 
of the Middle Ages'. It was written by Hecker, Professor at Frederick 
William's University, Berlin, and was translated by Dr. B. G. Babington, 
M. D. F. R. S. It formed one of the volumes of the Sydenham Society's 
works for 1844 ; and is I doubt not, to be seen in New York. It em- 
braces the * Black DeatV (not in your line); the Dancing Jfawm, which is. 
By all means, cast your discriminating eye over it. The chapters are, 
first, Dancing Mania in Germany and the Netherlands ; second, Dancing 
Mania in Italy (Tarantism); third, Dancing Mania in Abyssinia ; fourth, 
Sympathy, with an appendix on different varieties of the delusion. 

Another work, in two volumes, small octavo, is * The Cradle of the 
T^vin Giants, Science and History', by Henry Christmas, M. A. F. E. S. 
F. S. A. Librarian and Secretary of Zion College, London, 1849. 

Book 4 of the second volume treats of Pheumatology ; and the preface 
to the first volume contains a full bibliography of the authorities cited, 
which includes many works you might wish to see. 

I do not know any French work '■Sur la Folie\ which contains what 
you desire. The best are those of Esguizol and Jenget, which I have. 
The * Didionnaire des Sciences Ridicules,' the large work in upwards of 
sixty volumes, contains axiidQs convulsionnaire fov example, which may 
be worth looking at, but the two works first mentioned by me, comprise 
enough perhaps for you." 

The following anecdote is furnished by the Rev. D. M. L. 
Quackenbush, in a letter to Mrs. Bethune : 

" March 25, 1863. 
My entreaty that you should favor me by writing some of the circum- 



READINESS IN KXTEMPOUE PREACHING. 343 

stances of the counsels of your wise husband, is linked in my mind with 
this remembrance, whicli may not be without its value to you. I had 
entered the study one day, when the Doctor said to me, ' A young min- 
ister to-day asked me to explain to him my rules and habits of study. 
I told him that I could show him how I studied, and laid upon the table 
before him, these two books : ' showing mo his Bible and concordance, 
both partly worn out with use. He then added, that he never trusted 
himself, on writing his sermons, to quote any passage of Scripture, 
until he had first, by the help of the concordance turned to it, that he 
might both assure himself of his correct remembrance of its words, and 
also of the relation in which it stood to the context. He urged the 
greatest conscientiousness upon this subject, that no misrepresentation 
of the mind of the Spirit might be made by those who preach the Word. 

It was Dr. Bethune's habit while settled in Philadelphia, to preach 
once a month in the morning, and again in the evening, and not in the 
afternoon. 

One very warm day in July, 1840, he was waited upon, soon after liis 
morning service, by a committee of Dr. Barnes' church, who stated to 
him that their pastor had been absent several Sabbaths ; that they had 
made arrangements, as they supposed, to have the pulpit filled the pre- 
vious Sabbath, and also that day, but in both cases they had been disap- 
pointed, and they had pledged themselve:^ to the congregation to procure 
a preacher for that afternoon, and they made a strong appeal to Dr. Be- 
thune for liis services, to enable them to fulfil their promise. A good 
deal prostrated by the heat, and his forenoon duties, the good-natured 
Dr. nevertheless said, that if after they should have tried for some other 
minister, whom they mentioned, they failed to procure one, he would 
certainly preach for them. They left, but of course did not succeed, 
and soon returned to claim the services of Dr. Bethune. 

About 3 o'clock the Dr. went to his study, and selected a sermon, and 
on coming down, Mrs. B. advised him to take a cup of tea before he 
went, and, concluding to do so, he laid down his manuscript, and sat 
down to the table. After tea, he proceeded to Dr. Barnes' church, and 
found the house crowded, many of liis own flock being present. He 
had selected a sermon preached two years previously in the city of New 
York, on the commencement of the anniversaries ; and, remembering 



344 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

the text and hymn, he proceeded with the preliminary services, read liis 
text, and then opening his manuscript, saw at a glance that, instead of 
bringing the sermon he intended, he had brought the one he had preached 
in the morning to his own congregation, half of whom were present 
now! 

Without any visible pause, the Doctor, thrown suddenly upon his 
mental powers, and tliinking (as he afterwards said to a friend) that any 
fool could preach a sermon when it laid before him, determined to see 
if he could not preach one, with another one before Mm ; and, although 
he could not remember a particle of the manuscript, he commenced at 
once a sermon, founded upon that text. He was listened to with deep 
interest, but, after finishing, he made an apology to the congregation, by 
stating the fact of bringing the wrong sermon. 

After church, the Rev. Dr. V., who was present, asked the Dr. if 
that was not the same sermon he had preached at the anniversaries in 
New York, two years previously. Dr. Bethune replied that it was. 
Then, said his friend, never take your manuscript of a sermon into the 
desk with you again, for I heard the sermon z'Ae??, and have heard it 
now, and the last one was far the best, in every particular." 

At this point we may introduce a few specimens of Dr. 
Bethune's wit. This is a side of his life which should be 
made the most rich and spicy ; but how little capable are we 
to reproduce that, the charms of which belonged so much 
to its surroundings and to the expression of the voice. 

One marked characteristic was its playfulness, and free- 
dom from all malice. When occasion required it, he could 
be severe enough, but his habitual humor was gentle and 
kind. It was brilliant but harmless sheet lightning, blazing 
but not forked, nor fatal in its stroke. It was the over- 
flow of his own genial life, natural, spontaneous, impres- 
sible, and often full of his classic culture and sparkling 
spirit. It was, however, held in check by his dignity and 
sense of propriety. And while it shone in conversation, 
and on the platform, it never intruded upon the sacred pre- 
cincts of the pulpit. 



ANECDOTES. 345 

Representing the Knickerbocker interest, he would, as 
occasion offered, play his jokes upon the New Englanders. 
One point where he had them at an advantage, was in the 
disposition to leave their bleak homes for more congenial 
climes. " They reminded him," he said, " of a Scotchman, 
who was found shuddering all over with a fearful dream. 
And what was the matter, was your father dead ? Waur 
than that. Perhaps your mother ? Na, waur than that. 
But what frightened you so, did you see the devil ? Far 
waur than that. Why, what was it ? Hech, mon, I 
dreamed I wor bock in Scotland ; and then he shivered 
with horror." 

On another occasion the toast was given, " Boston, the 
place from which people go to all parts of the world." The 
Doctor was quickly on his feet with the retort, " New York, 
the place to which people come from all parts of the 
world." 

Lecturing on a very stormy night, the Doctor observed, 
" Though the assembly is small, we have only to open the 
upper windows, and we shall have an overflowing house." 
"As I came round the corner, the wind having deranged 
my umbrella, I had a lively sensation of what is called, 
* scudding under bare poles.'" A gentleman, smaller in 
stature, speaking before him at a public meeting, said he did 
not know on what principle he was asked to precede Dr. 
Bethune, except that little wheels always were before big 
ones. The reply of the ready orator was by a Scotch an- 
ecdote, in which the spokesman praising a lad cries, " Weel 
done, wee Willie, muckle ane hae ketch 3-e." On another 
occasion, when Admiral (then Captain) Foote addressed the 
meeting first. Dr. Bethune said, " You know that we had to 
put our best foot foremost to-night." 



346 »IEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

Conversing with a stout gentleman, whose face bore 
external evidence of good living, yet who spoke in feeble 
tones, complained of his health, and said that he " was 
as weak as a moth," " A Behemoth, I think," replied the 
laughing minister. Sometimes, however, his wit was fully 
matched by that of his subject. Thus, when Dr. Bethune 
was walking with a clergyman almost as full in person as 
himself, they spied another Brooklyn pastor, who presented 
a perfect contrast to their rotundity, and who, at the time, 
was suffering from a horrible attack of dyspepsia. As he 
approached, Bethune said to his companion, within hearing 
of the third party, " See there ! anybody that looks so ca- 
daverous as that, can't have a good conscience." The 
thin parson was wide awake, and rejoined, '' Brethren, I 
don't know about the conscience, but Pd rather have the 
gizzard of one of you, than the brains of both." The 
good Doctor enjoyed the sharp reply, and after a hearty 
laughter, said, " Let us go, we can't make anything out of 
him to-day." 

On another occasion, when introducing a lank clerical 
friend of the same denomination, (Baptist) to another inti- 
mate companion, with a twinkle of the eye, and in tones 
which none could more amusingly emploj^, he added, to 
the ceremonial announcement of his name and position, 
" But he's rather shrunk in the wetting." 

In a synodical debate. Dr. Bethune, taking a one-sided 
view of a subject, was charged with being a jug with one 
handle ; after a little while a man who got himself on two 
horns of a dilemma, was represented as a jug with two 
handles, but it was reserved for the Doctor to make the 
best use of the joke ; for a brother having risen who was 
rather famous for non-committalism, and who, on this sub- 



SCOTCH STORY. 347 

ject was no where, Dr. Bethune said, wc have had jugs 
with one handle and jugs with two handles, but here we have 
a jug with no handle at all.'' 

But it was his story-telling, whether at the dinner-table, 
or in the social circle, that made all about him radiant with 
smiles. He had a fund of anecdotes, that seemed never 
exhausted, and yet, as we try to write them, they seem to 
have lost all their power. It was the grace and tact of the 
narrator that gave them their lustre. 

One of his Scotch stories ran as follows ; it related to 
the times of Claverhouse, when the poor Covenanters were 
so fearfully persecuted by his dragoons : A Scotch lad was 
reading to his parents the Scripture in the book of Revela- 
tion, and came to that passage, " and lo ! another wonder 
in Heaven, a great red dragon," which he pronounced 
dragoan; ''Hoot awa', laddie," cried the father, ''that's 
no' richt, for I'se aye sure that nane of Claverhouse's men 
gang to Heaven ; read it ower again." So the boy repeated 
the sentence, spelling the word dragon as before, dragoo?!. 
"Sure enoo, it's dragoon, noo' try it again, an' if ye no' 
read it richt this time, I'll e'en gie ye a thrashing," said 
the enraged father. The youngster attempting the passage 
the third time with great care, still rendered it in the same 
manner. The father was about seizing his cudgel to correct 
the reader of heresy, when the naother interposed, saying, 
"Dinna' fash yersel', auld mon, dun ye no speer (see) it 
was a wunner in Heaven, thet ane o' Claverhouse's men 
happened to get in ? " 

A young friend, who had joined the Baptists, approached 
him timidly, lest the Doctor might censure his choice. After 
some hesitation, he broaclied the subject with the remark, 
" Well, Doctor ; yesterday I joined the Army of Zion." 



348 MExMOm OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

" Did you/' was the reply, '' in which church ? '' " In the 
Pierrepont Street Baptist/' came the faltering answer. 
" Oh ! I understand," said the Doctor, '' but I should call 
that joining the Navy." The young man was thus placed 
at his ease, and perfect fellowship was established. 

In closing this chapter we subjoin as specimens of his 
kindly playfulness, the following " rhyming letters " the 
first furnished us by Mr. L. G. Clarke ; the second written 
to a young friend, daughter of the Rev. E. H. May. 

The Mr. Gary, upon whose name he rings the verbal 
changes, was a most accomplished Christian gentleman ; a 
successful Nev7-York merchant, possessed of a benignant 
and happy fortune ; a bank president ; an elegant essayist 
(his nom de plume *' John Waters "), and a true lover, ac- 
knowledged judge, and generous patron of art. That he 
understood the aesthetics of the table may be inferred from 
the doctor's *' versides," as he termed them ; 

" It's quite extraordinary 

In my friend Mr. Gary 
To pretend unto so much amazement, 

That another should think 

Cold water good drink. 
When he can't dine in John Waters' basement. 

His own store of wine 

Is so varied and fine, 
(Some of it came from the East in the Argo,) 

That he should have pity, 

And not be so witty 
On a bard who has no Chateau Margau. 

Why the man's very name 
In poetical fame 
Is waterish e'en if his verse be not \ 
And all know bow he raves 



LETTER TO JOHN WATERS. , 349 

About fountains and waves, 
Whether salt or fresh waters cares he not. 

As for stocks — and all that — 

I'm a good democrat ; 
Hating banks — I defy all that stock-broking ; 

But Waters himself 

By them has lost pelf, 
So I guess — from his lachrymose joking. 

But this I tell thee. 

That with good company 
Like you both — (I pray you don't doubt it !) 

Cold water would be 

More grateful to me, 
Than magnums of good wine without it. 

I write as I'm able 

At my late breakfast table, 
Preserving my best philosophy, 

And wish you both health, 

Fame, comfort, and wealth 
In a cup of good strong Mocha coffee. 

From Philadelphia, 

This twenty-third day 
Of March (though my hand seems to vary,) 

I assure you, in tune, 

'lis G. W. Bethunk 
Writes you this by a kind secretary, 

Mr. Lewis G. Clarke, 

Who cannot keep dark 
Any rhyme that a rash friend may send him. 

But my heart's not a hard one. 

So I give him my pardon, 
With the hope that good luck may attend him ! " 



350 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

" It gives me hearty pleasure, my dear Miss Caro May, 
To use my earliest leisure, in answering your lay ; 
But you are, I'm sure you know it, modest as you may be. 
So natural a poet, as quite to puzzle me. 
For you will be insisting on rhyme to answer rhyme, 
And it costs me such a twisting of words about, and time, 
That what to you is easy, since you were born a bard, 
(Howe'er I strive to please ye) to me is very hard. 
Eager as I endeavor to echo back your wit. 
You are so very clever, I must give over it. 
So I'll not stay now for phrases, or nicely measured strain, 
But tell you how the case is, in rapid words and plain. 
And first as you desire, I'll tell you of my wife. 
She's happy near her sire, with a new lease of her life. 
When we left you it was raining, and it rained on through the 

night. 
But we thought not of complaining, for all turned out just right ; 
Next morning about seven, the clouds 'gan break away, 
And gave us from eleven, a dry and pleasant day ; 
So we left the canal basin without fear or annoy. 
And in the boat "John Mason " went safely up to Troy ; 
My father-in-law's old carriage, was waiting for us there, 
(We rode in't at our marriage, a young and happy pair. 
Since then through changes plenty, our wedded life has been ; 
I was just over twenty, my wife past seventeen;) 
Her bed of India-rubber, I put the seats across, 
Did you e'er know such a lubber, for a rhyme I'm at a loss ,• 
We laid her then upon it, for the coach is very large, 
And when I'd safely done it, I left my precious charge. 
Mary squeezed in beside her, John mounted on the box 
With a brother's care to guard her, safe from the ruts and rocks. 
I went then to a stable, and hired a horse and chair. 
For as yet I was not able to banish all my care. 
And followed them to German's, it may be six miles or more, 
'Cross a hill as high as Hermon's, and saw them safely o'er. 
Then sadly there we parted, I shed tears like a boy. 
And slow and broken-hearted went straightway back to Troy. 
They arrived quite safe at Salem, at an hour not very late, 



RHYMING LETTER. 351 

As nothing seemed to fail 'em a half an hour past eight ; 
I had a letter from her, in which she cheerily says, 
She's having a sweet summer in her home of early days ; 
I go from here next Monday, in haste, her then to see 
Stopping at Goshen one day with my sister's family. 

Give my love to all around you, I have no time to write more. 

And let it not astound you that I did not write before ; 

For I've been very busy with many a hard affair, 

About wliich a merry missy, like you lias little care ! 

God bless your father, mother, your sisters twain, also, 

"With each kind-hearted brother ; and I wish yourself to know. 

As I bid good-by unto you, though ray name in haste I sign. 

That a friendly heart more true you will rarely know than mine. 

'Mongst those who love you dearly, (please write to Salem soon,) 

Always reckon most sincerely, George W. Bethune." 



352 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHDNE, D. D, 



CHAPTER Xin. 

PATRIOTISM UNION SPEECH. 

We should neglect a great feature in Dr. Bethune if we 
did not describe him as a patriot, and a patriot of the first 
water, whose love of country, like every grand sentiment, 
bordered on the extravagant ; whatever he did, he did 
strongly, and so his devotion to the Constitution and Union 
of the States was a mighty devotion. 

"During the Presidential campaign of 1856, when the Kansas trouble 
filled the land with unusual excitement, he was the victim of the deepest 
anxiety. After the vote had determined that Mr. Buchanan was to be 
the next President, he wrote a long, earnest, and eloquent letter to that 
gentleman, with whom he had personal friendship, imploring him, as he 
loved his country, and would prevent the calamity of a civil war, to use 
his great influence, when in the Presidential cliair, to arrest the march 
of the slave power, and repress the violence of its reckless propagandism. 
That letter he read to me in the privacy of his study, his voice at times 
choking with emotion, and the tears running down from his eyes, saying 
as he closed, ' I love my country, and if there is a word in this letter 
that ought not to be said, tell me to strike it out.' I shall never forget 
that day. It was the beginning of a series of mental excitements which 
has at last ended in the quiet sleep." 

The foregoing is quoted from the Ohio State Journal of 
May 20, 1862, and comes from the Rev. E. S. Porter, D. D., 
who was intimate with Dr. Bethune. The original letter 
we have not been able to obtain and rather wonder that n o 
copy of it exists among our papers, but the answer to it is 
as follows ; 



EDWARD EVERETT TO DR. BETHUNE. 353 

'* Wheatlands, Penn, Nov. 27, 1866. 
My Deab Dr. Bethune : I have perused your very kind letter of 
the 21st Last., with deep interest, and sincerely regret that my numer- 
ous and pressing engagements allow me no time to answer it as it well 
deserves. I feel proud of your good opinion and am happy to say that 
the friendly sentiments which you express for myself have been cordially 
reciprocated on ray part ever since our first acquaintance. 

I feel, as I ought to do, the high responsibility of my position; but 
placing my trust in God, and asking wisdom from on high, I shall pro- 
ceed with a cheerful and unfaltering spirit to perform the task assigned 
to me by my countrymen. This was neither sought nor desired by my- 
self. 

In haste, I remain very respectfully, 

Your friend, 

James Buchanan. 
Rev. Dr. Bethune." 

The followiDg acknowledgement from Edward Everett 
shows that Dr. Bethune was diligent in the good cause : 

"I am extremely obliged to you for the kind expressions contained 
in the latter portion of your letter. I have looked, and still look, with 
great anxiety, upon the condition and tendency of affairs. We seem to 
be borne, upon a rushing tide, toward a doubtful future ; and much 
more of the intellectual power of the country is put forth to drive the 
bark onward, than to steer its course or ascertain its destination. We 
are piling rosin into the furnace, and leaving the helm to take care of 
itself. If, as you are kind enough to tliink, my voice, almost spent, 
has not been uttered wholly in vain in favor of more prudent counsels, 
I shall, so far, have performed the duty of a good citizen." 

In December, 1859, a great opportunity for the display 

of his oratorical powers came. The United States were to 

be dismembered. There breathed no man with soul so 

dead as to look with coldness on the fateful struggle. The 

23 



354 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETIIUNE, D. D. 

great Union Meeting in the New York Academy of Music, 
was called, and he attended as a private individual. The 
meeting had been prevised, and Bethune was not on the 
programme, but when discovered, he was enthusiastically 
called for, even before the appointed speakers of the even- 
ing had delivered themselves. At first he hesitated, having 
a desire to avoid violent excitement, but moved by the 
tremendous popular cries, he came forward and addressed 
the meeting ; we reproduce the speech as a noble expres- 
sion of patriotism, and as it gives Dr. Bethune's sentiments 
on the Great Question. 

"I rise, sir, not because I have the presumption to think that I can 
preserve the attention of this vast assembly, after all the excellent 
things they have heard this evening, at this late hour. But, sir, I come 
before this audience to show myself. (Great cheering.) Insignificant 
as I, personally, may be among the millions of this land, and weak in 
influence as my voice may be, when that voice is called for, and there 
is a question where I stand, I wish to be reckoned with the Union now 
and forever. (Loud cheers.) Yes, sir, I love the Union, and when I 
say that, it is with the wish that if that Union is to perish, I may die 
first. And, sir, there are many things which have been said here this 
evening, with some of which I may frankly say I could not coincide. 
I am not going to read law to you, sir. It is not my province, and I 
must be excused from accepting the theology of some gentlemen who 
have invaded mine. (Laughter.) Sir, when I saw the call of tliis 
meeting, I said I must be there. Never have I attended a public meet- 
ing in any way political before in my life. (Cheers, and cries of 
♦Good.') And I can say, with a clear conscience, that no man has 
ever heard me utter in public a single word of party politics. I belong 
to a higher service. (Renewed cheering.) I am, by my calling and 
my vows, a minister of the Gospel of Peace, and it is as a minister of 
peace that I am among you to-night. (Applause.) It is high time, 
when the pulpit is desecrated by appeals to the wildest fanaticism, 
(Loud cheers, and a remark, • The right man is in the right place this 



UNION SPEECH. 355 

time!') — when rnen, by voice of ecclesiastics, are canonized because 
tliey h:ive shown the pluck of a bull-dog, with the blood-thirstiness of 
the tiger (applause) — it is high time, I say, that one who, humble as 
myself, believes that the Gospel is * Peace on earth and good-will 
toward man,' should act upon his principles. (Loud applause.) I will 
not enter into any of the disputed questions that have been foisted into 
our meeting to-night. I have seen a discussion about the call of this 
meeting, that there was first one call, then it was altered for another 
call, that the same people who signed one could not have signed the 
other. I never read either one call or the other through (laughter) ; 
all I saw in the call was the word ' Union,' (continued cheering), and 
that was enough. (Renewed cheering.) I remember an honest Gov- 
ernor of Pennsylvania, whose ancestry was traceable in his broken 
speech, was appealed to for the pardon of a man who had murdered his 
wife, but the honest old man said, ' What ! pardon a man for such a 
crime as that, — a man who could take a woman, and promise to nour- 
ish and cherish, and den kill her? Vy, he ought to be 'shamed of him- 
self.' (Uproarious laughter and cheers.) So I say here to-night, if 
any man, in getting up this meeting, or in coming to this meeting, has 
had a thought of Democrat or Republican, or Native American higher 
in his mind than Union, he ought to be ashamed of himself. Kor shall 
I have sympathy with him except he repent in sackcloth and ashes. 
You talk of the Union being dissolved. Sir, there has been deep feel- 
ing in most of the speeches I have heard this evening. They say if 
this Union is to be dissolved — when the Union is dissolved. "Why 
that, sir, is what we logicians call an impossible hypothesis. The 
Union is not going to be dissolved. Do you remember, sir, that once, 
in old Rome, there was a gulf opened across the city ; it was widening 
and widening until it threatened to engulf the whole of that splendid 
Capitol, when one, Marcus Curtius, mounted his steed, fully armed and 
equipped, and rode toward the chasm and leaped into it, a wilhng victim 
to save his Rome? Sir, should such a chasm happen in our Union, 
there is not one, but there are a hundred Curtii, — a hundred times 
ten thousand, — that are willing to leap into it. Divide the Union! 
Where are you going to divide the line? (A voice, Mason and Dixon's 
line.) Mason and Dixon's fiddlesticks. Do you want to go ? Wliich 
side do you mean to go ? I know where I should go. It would be with 



35 G MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

that section that holds fastest to the Constitution as it is. (Loud 
cheers.) 

Sir, if any man has a right to be proud of his native place, perhaps it 
is the man who speaks to you, for I was born in New York. But, sir, 
what is New York ? What is the North ? What is the South ? What 
is the East ? What is the West ? Take away this Union and we are 
nothing; worse than notliing; a conflicting, jostling chaos of rude, 
crumbling fragments. It is not for me to enter into this question. But 
I repeat, where will you draw a line ? Will you split the Mississippi ? 
Try it. Are you going to divide by the assumed or imputed evil of 
slavery? Where does slavery stop? They grow cotton at the South, 
but where do they manufacture it ? (Tremendous cheering.) I beg 
your pardon, but I have not time to be cheered. I have read a story 
of Cook, the drunken player, who once, in Liverpool, came upon the 
stage to act, and his condition being evident when he approached the 
footlights, they Mssed him. His indignation restored him for a moment, 
and he looked at the Liverpoolians, as he called them, saying, 'You 
hiss George Frederick Cook, you people of Liverpool, with the sweat 
and blood of the slave between every two bricks of your house ? ' It 
was so. There never was a slave in Liverpool, if I remember, but 
they profited by the slave. They bought and sold Mm. Yes, sir, there 
exists, if I mistake not, in the plate-room of Windsor Castle, a splendid 
service of gold, given to one of the royal dukes, by Liverpool merchants, 
for liis efforts to prevent the abolition of the slave-trade. But I wander 
from my purpose, in recalling that historical reminiscence, which was 
to say, that, in some sections of our land, where the loudest cry is heard 
upon tliis question, men have grown rich by these slaves ; that the blood 
and sweat of the slave is between every two bricks of their sumptuous 
palaces. Now people may call this what they please, I call it hypocrisy. 
(Tremendous cheers.) Where will you draw this line? I will tell you 
where you must draw it. If you draw it at all you must draw it across 
and through our dearest affections. We are one people. The man 
who lives on the Aroostook, has his brother on the Rio Grande. The 
Northern mother has given her child to the Southern planter, and the 
Southern planter bows in thankfulness to God for the daughter of 
the North to cheer his home. Will you dissolve this Union ? (Cries 
of ' No, no,' and cheers.) 



PATRIOTISM. 357 

I tell you, you need not ask the question. You cannot. You cannot. 
It will be far better than the Sabines and the Romans. You have not 
taken violently the women of the South to be your wives. You have 
exchanged consanguinity, you cannot separate them. What God hath 
joined together, let no man put asunder. (Prolonged applause, the 
whole assembly, on the platform, floor and galleries, rising, waving 
hats, cheering and shouting, in wild enthusiasm.) A word or two more. 
I will not say that I have said all that I wish. There are many things 
which I could, and in another condition of circumstances might be glad 
to say, which I shall not inflict upon you now. This is not a time for 
dry metaphysics. But I believe, sir, that we inherit from our fathers 
some degree of that honesty and truth for which they were distinguished 
and for which their God and our God blessed them. Our fathers made 
the compact of this Union — our fathers made the Constitution as the 
mighty bond that should hold it together. And I have one belief that 
this gift has of itself proA'en with its checks, its balances, and its 
securities, so good that any alteration would be for the worse 
(* Good ! ') — that it contains witliin itself a perfect remedy for every 
evil, if our people will faithfully apply it and wait for the operation of 
the remedy. There is, therefore, n-) room for revolution in this 
country ; and it may be said of all those who hesitate about its principles. 
He that doubteth, is worthy of condemnation. (Cheers.) But, sir, why 
should we not keep to this, our fatliers' faith? We should know that \rc 
are bound by that deed. Has it not been in the faith of that compact 
that this country has grown to its present prosperity, and shall we, the 
inheritors of all the blessings, break the vows of even political baptism, 
which, as our sponsors, they made for us ? No, No ! Let us keep this. 
Lot all our people learn that thoy are bound by ties which none can 
break. The bones which are now mouldering to kindred dust are sacred 
with ihe nieraorios of their patriotism. We should be violaters of the 
vows they made if we suffer one stone of the Union reared by them to 
be pulled down. Sh', I agree in many respects with my good friend the 
ProfL'Ssor, who spoke before me, and I have great regard for him, but I 
can not help thinking tliat he got among the stars to-night. (Laughter.) 
I believe in a system of government which is maintained by working, 
men, men wlio work in their primary meetings, and who are not afraid 
of getting their coats torn by a rowdy ; men who are willing to take their 



358 MEMOIR OF GEO. AV. BETKUNE, D. D. 

places and scuffle if it be necessary, to see that the voice of the people 
is attained. (Cheers and applause.) Men who, if their countrymen 
call them to office, do not mistake cowardice for modesty, and refuse to 
serve. No matter where the man is, there he should be faithful to God, 
faithful to man, ftiithful to liis country, faithful to the world. I am 
thankful that I can not be a candidate for office. I once held an office 
under the general government, and I was offered another. The other I 
did not like, (hiughter) but the first I did. It kept me five hours, and I 
was allowed my expenses as emolument. But as there was no omnibus 
riding in that direction, I did not get a sixpence. I am no candidate 
for office, sir, I belong to a kiug. I am a monarchist. I belong to 
another king — one Jesus. (Applause.) But I know no greater 
recreant to the principles of his faith, and no more dangerous agitator 
than he, who, under the pretense of serving the religion of Christ, uses 
his sacred office to urge men into riot and sedition. I am no candidate 
for office, because I hold an office so high that no other on earth can ap- 
proach it. I am content with my lot — content to be simply a preacher 
of the Gospel of Jesus, and ask no higher reward than to help men 
toward heaven when they die, and keep them in peace while they live 
on earth. But, sir, there is one thing I never neglect to do, and that is, 
I do not forget, because I am a Christian and a minister of the gospel, 
that I am an American citizen ; I always vote ; I prepare my ballot with 
the same conscientiousness, and for wliich my friends frequently laugh 
at me, as if I thought my ticket was to elect. This is the way, I think, 
Ave ought to work ; and one thing is certain, that, if I retain my reason, 
which God grant I may, I will never vote for any man, be he Democrat, 
Whig, Native, or — or — or — what do you call him? (A voice — 
*Eepublican.') I beg pardon, that class has had so many names that 
I can not recall it at once. (Loud laughter.) I say I never will 
vote for any man, no, not if he were my own brother, not if he lay with 
me in my mother's womb, as did Esau with Jacob, on whose history, or 
antecedents, or associations there is the slightest stain or suspicion of 
DISUNION. (Tumultuous cheering, long and enthusiastic, and repeated.) 
I know a man may make a mistake and repent. The drunkard may re- 
form from drink. Very well, let him reform, but keep the brandy 
bottle out of his way. I would not give him a chance to relapse. 
I believe that this is a true rule. Vote for a man who loves his country. 



NATIONAL IIYWN. 3o9 

and who shows he has good sense and considers what his country's good 
is. 

Talk of incendiary documents. The most incendiary document is a 
thing that wears a coat and breeches, writes ' Honorable ' before his 
name, and 'M. C after it, (laughter,) and goes to Washington to do 
anything else than take care of the people and the whole people. Let 
us stick to this, sir. 

And while the grass grows on the hill. 

And the stream runs through the vale, 
May they still keep their faith, 

Nor in their covenant fail. 
God keep the fairest, widest land 

That lies beneath the sun, 
Our country, our whole country. 

Our country ever one." (Loud cheering.) 

The great meeting then adjourned, about ten minutes 
before midnight, with a volley of cheers. 

As a conclusion to these expressions of patriotism, we 
add the following spirited, national hymn, which was written 
and set to music by Dr. Bethune : 

" God's blessing be upon 

Our own, our native land ! 
The land our fathers won 

By the strong heart and hand. 

The keen axe and the brand, 
"When they felled the forest's pride, 
And the tyrant foe defied, 
The free, the rich, the wide, 

God for our native land ! 

Up with the starry sign, 

The red stripes and the white ! 
Where'er its glories shine. 

In peace or in the fight, 



360 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

We own its liigh command : 
For the flag our fathers gave, 
O'er our children's heads shall wave. 
And their children's children's grave ; 

God for our native land ! 

Who doth that flag defy, 

We challenge as our foe ; 
Who will not for it die, 

Out from us he must go I 

So let them understand, 
Who that dear flag disclaim, 
Which won their fathers' fame, 
We brand with endless shame ; 

God for our native land ! 

Our native land, to thee. 

In one united vow. 
To keep thee strong and free 

And glorious as now ; 

We pledge each heart and hand, 
By the blood our fathers shed, 
By the ashes of our dead. 
By the sacred soil we tread ; 

God for our native land." 

That there were men in the South to whom these sen- 
timents were acceptable, the following letter from I. B. Fin- 
ney, to Dr. Bethune will show. 

"Col. Off. N. Y. Feb. 9, 1860. 

Rev. Dr. Bethdnb : My dear sir, my daughter Agnes is passing the 
winter in Texas, teaching, and in her last letter has a paragraph which I 
extract for you. Allow me to salute the future President. 

She writes, * Of course the recent raid of the abolitionists, and its 
results in bringing out the conservative portion of the community, is the 
subject of interest here as everywhere. Fortunately I am surrounded 
by conservative, union, sensible people, though Southerners ; I believe I 



NATIONAL CRISIS. 361 

so informed you betbro. But I did not toll you how the Colonel 
(Ovren) was taken with Dr. Betlmne's remarks at that meeting in the 
Academy. He frequently exclaims, ' Weil, if I had been there that 
night, I should have got up and nominated Bethune for President, 
ilis ideas just suit me, and I believe he would make' a good President.' 
Your speech was not made in vain, if so acoceptable at the farthest 
South. Truly Yours." 

His name was distinctly pronounced on the stage of that 
meeting' as the right candidate for the Presidency. 

But affairs rapidly approached a consummation. In April 
following, the news reached New York that Fort Sumter 
had been fired upon and after a heavy cannonading had 
been surrendered. The tidings that the flag of our country 
had been assailed by brethren filled every loyal heart with 
indignation, and a meeting assembled in the great city, 
immense in size, and of such a fierce and heroic spirit as 
probably the world had not often seen. Those who were 
well acquainted with Dr. Bethune, had seen how his ideas 
were preparing for this great crisis. An old-fashioned 
democrat, a strong party man, who would stand at the poll 
with good Dr. Ludlow for hours to deposit his vote ; with 
warm friendships iu the South : yet we have seen how he 
warned Mr. Buchanan against the aggressive spirit of the 
South, and a few weeks before the great outbreak he was 
found in sharp debate with an old friend, Dr Iloge of Rich- 
mond ; only the concluding sentences of the interview were 
heard. Dr. Iloge said sadly "I never expected to hear such 
things from you ; " ''Ah ! " replied Dr. Bethune, " you have 
pushed us too far, you have pushed us too far." Now, at 
this great Sumter meeting, he came out fully and bravely ; 
although under strict orders to avoid mental excitement, at 
the compulsion of the people he addressed them several 



362 MEMOIR OF GEO. AV. BETHUNE, D. D. 

limes with great fire and energy. The next day was the 
Sabbath, and an immense audience filled his church ; the 
sermon was not carefully prepared, but was a remarkable 
eifort. The speaker was several times overcome with 
emotion, and when he came to speak of our deluded brethren, 
audible sobs were heard through the congregation. Here 
was a complete change of opinion and action, and some say 
it involved a great inconsistency, but let us then recall 
Macaulay's illustrations in the Essay on Sir James Mack- 
intosh. 

*' And why is one person to be singled out from among millions and 
arraigned before posterity as a traitor to his opinions only because events 
produced on him the effect which they produced on a whole generation? 
People, who like Mr. Brothers in the last generation, and Mr. Percival in 
this, have been favored with revelations from heaven may be quite inde- 
pendent of the vulgar sources of knowledge. But such poor creatures 
as Mackintosh, Dumont, and Bentham had nothing but observation and 
reason to guide them, and they obeyed the guidance of observation and 
of reason. How is it in physics? A traveller falls in with a berry 
which he has never before seen. He tastes it and finds it sweet and 
refreshing. He praises it and resolves to introduce it into his own coun- 
try. But in a few minutes he is taken violently sick ; he is convulsed ; 
he is at the point of death ; he of course changes his opinion, pronounces 
this delicious food a poison, blames his own folly in tasting it, and cau- 
tions his friends against it. After a long and violent struggle he recov- 
ers, and finds himself much exhausted by his sufferings, but free from 
some chronic complaints which had been the torment of his life. He 
then changes his opinion again and pronounces this fruit a very powerful 
remedy, which ought to be employed only in extreme cases and with 
great caution, but which ought not to be absolutely excluded from the 
Pharmacopoeia. And would it not be the height of absurdity to call 
such a man fickle and inconsistent because he had repeatedly altered his 
judgment? If he had not altered his judgment would he have been a 
rational being? 



LETTER TO A SOUTHERNER. 363 

Dr. Bethuae to a correspondent nnknown. 

" N. Y. Feb. 7, 1861. 

My Dear Sir : Your note without date reached me a few days ago. 
Your book has not come. I may however say at once that the question 
it treats of has now but little interest for me. My love for the Union 
was not based upon the belief that slavery is right. I stood up for the 
Constitutional rights of those whom the Union made my countrymen : 
when the same people repudiate the Union they are no longer my coim- 
trymen ; I am for letting the responsibilities of slavery rest where they 
belong. If you like it I am not for interfering with you, against you, or 
for you. But as for ourselves, we have not got it, we do not want it, 
and do not believe in it. One thing is certain. If the preservation 
( ?) of the Union depends upon the Northern people heing convinced that 
slavery is either desirable or right, iheVnion cannot stand; for we 
did it away (in New York) forty years and more since, and we shall not 
stultify ourselves. I am perfectly Avilling that a line should be drawn 
across the continent dividing the free country from the slave, across 
which neither people shall have any power over the other. 

Whatever may be your Scriptural or ethical argument, there yet re- 
mains the grand question of its political expediency (for you will hardly 
contend that Christians are bound to enslave people). On that point 
the very bad recent behaviour of the seceding States has convinced 
me of the negative. Slavery makes not good democrats or good fel- 
low-citizens. Convince the Southern conscience if you will and can, 
but let ours alone. We want no argument to prove that we may do what 
we should hate to do. Our prosperous freedom does not rest upon the 
bondage of others, but upon the blessing of God, promised to our own 
sweat. The fact is, I am sick of the whole discussion, and am strongly 
tempted to doubt the value of a Union with such troublesome neighbors 
as slavery gives us. I cannot, therefore, borrow your boo7>: ; though in 
Christian kindness I wish you well. 

Very truly yours, 

Geo. W. Bethune." 

Dr. Bethune's answer to a Southern lady. 

*' May, 18G1. 
My Dear Madam: Your ktter of the 4th has only just now come, 



364 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETIIUNE, D. D. 

and affects me deeply. I remember the kind hospitality to Avhich I was 
Avelcomed under your roof, with a lively gratitude, and deplore the mad- 
ness of men, and the business of politicians, and the folly of their dupes, 
which have brought our country to this terrible war, dividing those who 
love each other sincerely, into hostile bands. Would to God that some 
influence from on high would staj tlie tide of angry passions, and com- 
mand peace. I continually pray to God that even now he would inter- 
fere — but none except God can do this, no human voice, however ven- 
erable, can prevail here to stay the determination of our people to vindi- 
cate the flag they so much love, so foully outraged by your Southern 
leaders, and defend the Capital so impudently threatened by such deter- 
mined conspirators as Davis, and such insane braggarts as Wise, etc. 
Dr. Miner will tell you that no man after his ability exerted himself 
more zealously to keep our people at peace with the South — I was only 
one of countless numbers at the South so disgraced. But the first shot 
at Sumter, the first clearly hostile assault upon that symbol of our 
nation and our honor, changed tliis in an instant to a determination to 
defend our nation until death, at any cost, and by every means of hon- 
ourable warfare. I have never seen such unanimity, such enthusiasm, 
such devotion, as the fall of Sumter awakened in all classes of our citi- 
zens — nor is it lessened by the lapse of time. Our Northern blood is 
not like the easily heated blood of the South. Our people rarely fight 
duels ; no reputable person carries, in ordinary life, a mortal weapon. 
They have been reproached by southern Hotspurs, because so unwill- 
ing to fight with cowards ; but when they are roused their determination 
is terrible, and, I may add, strong as arms accustomed to earn bread by 
having to toil, can make them. They feel, and all feel, that the fight 
is not only for our outraged flag, but our nation, our government, the 
principles of liberty, civil and religious, received from our fathers, and 
the just inheritance of posterity. I firmly believe that the very large 
majority of our people will fight or carry on the war till their last dollar, 
rather than continue liable to such outrages and threats and insults as 
Davis and his crew heap upon us. Great as the enthusiasm has been 
here, depend upon it, it has only begun. For one man who has gone to 
the scat of war, there are ten, yes a score, willing to go tlie moment they 
are called for by the government — and as for money it will be ready in 
any amount. 



LETTEll TO Mil. BliAYTOX. 865 

In conversing with my brother ministers, I, as well as they, am 
astonished at the number of pious men that are in the ranks. Out 
of my own congregation has gone a score or two of the finest men ayg 
have. When the ladies meet to sew, and do what they can in prepara- 
tion for the hospitals, it is sad to hear them compare their sorrows; one 
has a son gone, another two, and tlien one a husband, another a son-in- 
law, another a nephew, another weeps in silence for one dearer than all, 
and yet I tell you, before God, I have never heard any harsh Avord 
against the Southern people, or, at least, any harsher than ' How foolish 
and mad they are to let their angry passions go so far ; ' and in our daily 
prayer-meetings, and Sunday services, we pray for you when we pray 
for ourselves. In some of the churches the Sunday-schools are nearly 
all bereft of teachers." 

'' New York, April 9, 1860. 
Mt Dear Mr. Bratton : I am obliged to you for your note, which 
has not been answered simply because I had, as yet, nothing to say. I 
am also a little discouraged from giving any counsel to your church, 
as, though my regard for it is very strong, my counsels, on former 
occasions, were not taken, when, if they had been, some mistakes would 
have been prevented The fact is, Mr. Brayton, congregations, as a 
general thing, are not as good judges of what minister will suit them, as 
well-informed ministers are. We know how to judge of our ministerial 
brethren, professionally, and, we know also, the precedents of those 
brethren, and judge of them by the lovg run, not as congregations do, 
by a few spasmodic efforts to show off, in a trial sermon or two. He 
must be a preciously small body, who cannot, somehow, get up one or 
two good sermons ; and then again, few really able men, who respect 
their office and themselves, are willing to humiliate themselves by can- 
didating, as it is termed ; that is, hawking about samples of their 
ware, and showing off what nice sort of persons they are. Choose a 
minister by his well-known character, and that of his career. A man 
who has done well in one place, is, all other things being equal, likely 
to do well in another. These remarks are, I know, perfectly gratuitous. 
I never expect any congregation to accept them as good advice. I can- 
not find the sort of man you graphically describe, that is, a sort of St. 
Paul, and a little more so. I hear, occasionally, of such a gentleman, 
but recently settled over a church, but you must wait for at least six 



SC6 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

months, until his now new people find that he is only a descendant 
of Adam, and have 

* Seen an end of all things called 
Perfection here below.' 

When you may buy it second-hand, at reduced price, the sordid 
matter of salary is often a difficulty ; not the worldliness of the preacher, 
whose affections should be set on things above, but the worldliness 
of such people as butchers, and bakers, and tailors, and shoemakers, 
who will insist on being paid in the current mammon, for such things as 
the pastor needs while yet in body. I will not insinuate any charge 
of worldliness against the congregations who, by each of them adding 
five or ten dollars to their pew rent, could add five hundred or one 
thousand dollars to the minister's salary. Why should a man pay so 
much rent for a short, narrow slip of a pew, Avhich he occupies only 
three or four liours a week? No spiritual-minded minister should 
think of putting such a tax upon an affectionate, heavenly-minded 
people. No. He should get up early in the morning, then, like an 
Israelite indeed, scratch around for manna, and, if he can't find any, 
trust Providence, who feeds the ravens and will not neglect black- 
coats and their offspring. They ought to keep their bodies under, and 
if they faithfully persevere until they get them under the sod, they have 
the consolation of knowing that they will need no more butcher's meat, 
and such gross aliments as cannot be got without money. 

Seriously, I did make the suggestion you speak of, to Mrs. T. W., 
and I tried hard to get the man I thought of, but some other people had 
thought of him, too, and so he had the temerity to reject my advice, 
and there was an end of it. I have since been diligent in making in- 
quiries, but not successful. If you could procure Mr. J. Elmendorf, now 
of S., you would get such a man as you need, but the people of S. need 
him, too. Mr. Voorhies formerly of G., now of B. B., (I think) is a de- 
lightful preacher, but then he was unwell some years ago, from an over- 
worked brain, and preaches, I am told, only once a day. If you could 
give Dr. Kennedy, now in Troy, a comfortable stipend, he might, I speak 
of a possibility, be induced to go where his wife's family live, but I could 
not assure you that he would. Dr. McElroy told me, the other day, of 
a very good man, and has promised to tell me more, when he knows more 



FASTIDIOUS CONGIiEGATIOX. 367 

about him. If favorable, I will let you know. I am told, also, that Dr. 
Chester of Buffalo is uneasy where he is, and he is, in my estimation, a 
man of rare excellence. It is possible that he might listen, but naturally 
would not consider it a call in Providence, unless it provided for liis 
necessities. One of my greatest favorites, among our middle-aged clergy, 
is Mr. A. T. Stewart of Tarrytown,but then he is not a Spurgeon or a 
Chalmers, or an Apollos. He is only a well-trained theologian, a faith- 
ful, sound expositor of God's Word, and a hard-working, unpretentious, 
Christian man, of spotless life and absorbed devotion to doing good. 
You might take some leisure time to write to some of these gentlemen; 
there is no knowing what might come of it. In the meantime, upon the 
wretched principle that ' misery loves company,' you may console your- 
selves with the fact that the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church (late 
Dr. Alexander's) is still searching for an untranslated Apostle Paul, or 
hitherto unrecognized Luther; that one great collegiate church has two 
vacancies, and is anxiously peering into the shadows under which lie 
two hypothetical sons of thunder (there is only one), and that, generally, 
the supply of immaculate, exquisite excellence is not quite equal to the 
demand. There are some good men afloat, but of them it may he said, 
as it was of an aboriginal beauty, * She won't hab Indian, — white man 
won't hab her.' That is, nothing less than the first church in the land 
of Beulah would meet their expectations. My serious advice is to get a 
first-rate man, who may build you up, and so enable you to give hioi 
Avhat he needs. Under God, in a church, nine-tenths of everything 
depends on the man who is in the pulpit. To take a weak man because 
you are feeble is not as wise as to take a strong man who can make you 
strong. But to quote another Indian, 'poor pay, poor preach.' In a 
remote contingency you might take a promising boy-baby, get his 
organs certified by a phrenologist, and bring him up to your hand by a 
spoon. Your sportive letter has led me, despite of several efforts to be 
serious, into a similar strain ; but I am truly anxious to serve you, and 
will do, as I am doing, all I can for you. Your church is dear to me as 
a child of my own travail, but the difficulties are many ; may God give 
us light. With great regard, my dear sir, 

Yours, very faithfully, 

Geo. W. BEiTiTrxE. 
My excellent colleagiio, Dr. Van Xcst, recommends very highly Mr. 



368 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETIIUXE, I). D. 

G. Tallraadge of Green Point near Brooklyn. He, Mr. T., is an excel- 
lent man, but Dr. Van Nest knows him better than I do." 



Dii. Bethune to Mk. Priust. " Jan. 15, 1860. 

I cannot answer your question with regard to the manner in which 
the slavery question has been aflfected by the revival, as you good peo- 
ple in England do not properly understand the relations of that matter. 
Decidedly the anti- slavery portion of our people (I use the term anti- 
slavery in its technical sense, we are all of us at the North anti-slavery 
in its pure sense) is not tlie evangelical portion, but with many good 
people among them it is composed of many sorts, infidels like the 1 om 
Paineists, Transcendentalists, Socialists, "Women's rights people, &c., 
&c., &c. My impression is that the revival has made very little change 
in this respect. More recently the Harper's Ferry massacre has struck 
horror into the hearts of many, and there is less disposition to treat this 
to us most vital matter rashly or to trifle with the bonds of our great 
Confederacy, the strength of which lies under God in two things. 
1. In our union upon certain specific matters and ad extra. 2. In 
our non interference with each other inside of the separate state lines. 
Be assured, my dear sir, that the high interests at stake will not allow 
us /or any reason to risk a dissolution of our Union, and we see more 
than ever what madness it would be to precipitate changes by violence 
which the progress of t'ne Gospel will bring about peacefully. The Gos- 
pel in its influence on the heart is the only reformer of vice, the only 
liberator of the oppressed. Willing as I am to accept good at the hand 
of the Lord in any way I cannot give in to the infidel liumanitariaiiism 
which substitutes the reforming methods of men for the great power of 
God. I do not suppose that living as you do remote from the scene you 
will fully agree with me. Anti-slavery is the pet pharisaism of Great 
Britain ; but I am sure that were you here you would find that the very 
large majority of persons with whom for their piety, their benevolence 
and purity of doctrine you would most love to associate, are not known 
as what you would call anti-slavery in their sentiments. On the con- 
trary you would be horror-struck at the sentiments uttered by that class 
of men who, with the same breath that they denounce slavery, denounce 
Christian churches, the Sabbath, the very Bible itself; declaring John 



ENGLAND'S POLICY. 3(59 

Brown a greater benefactor tlian Jesus Christ, and his gallows more 
glorious than the cross. 

But as I said before I cannot discuss this question with you, and I fear 
that it is one too vast in its subject and consequences for us to settle. 
I iiate slavery. I pray every night for the freedom of all slaves, but I 
have no sympathies wiih abolitionists so-called, and put my whole trust 
in the grace of God through the Gospel. If that fail, surely no scheme 
begun and carried on in a spirit adverse to that of the Gospel can 
succeed. 

JMost affectionately your friend, 

Geo. W. Bethune." 

Dr. Bethune to Rev. E. Peust. " Sept. 19, 18GL 

I am not desirous of being detained long in England under the present 
threatening aspect of afiairs, as I consider war between England and 
this country imminent should there be any hostile interferance with our 
measures to put down Southern rebellion. Our people are fighting for 
their national existence, and if England takes advantage of our embar- 
rassment in the rebellion to break our remaining strength, our people 
will be only the more desperately determined to put forth their whole 
strength. I regret the Machiavellian policy which England sees fit to 
pursue for the sake of cotton. There are but two great Protestant Con- 
stitutional governments in the world, and in the event of a Continental 
combination against England this nation should be her ally. That now 
can never be. England has now no friends in America except among the 
slave-holders. With these apprehensions and feelings you can readily 
see how naturally I desire to get from England into France, with whom 
our relations are much more likely to be peaceful, and where I shall find 
a more friendly climate." 

Dr. Betuune to Joshua Cooke, Esq. " September, 18G1. 

Notwithstanding all, I am far from despairing of our dear country. 
What fear I have had of England or France has passed away. Our 
finances are easy, our troops numerous ; we have the best military talent 
and energv, and the nasty political intermeddlers dare not mutter nor 
peep since Bull Bun. We are not well governed ; in fact, out- 
side of the War Authorities, it is at Washington the reign of vulgar- 
ism and ignorance. But our people still lire. They will not desert 

24 



370 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETIIUXE, D. D. 

themselves nor allow their public servants to ruin them. The enthusi- 
asm has abated in our cities, but enthusiasm never has had longer 
strength. Now that the government has money there is good reason for 
putting steady, administrative power in the place of shouting enthusiasm, 
popular war committees, &c. 

Depend upon it that we shall triumph, and come out with less bulk 
perhaps, but finer gold. Make it part of your religion to trust, and of 
your patriotism to believe that the Union must prevail. Where do you 
think are all the Wide-awakes. Asleep ! ' Docthur,' said an old Irish- 
man to me as he was sending off three of his ' byes ' to fight, ' you'll re- 
member what our old General said. Peaceably if we can, but ye see we 
can't.' I see no reason to change my political principles. My faith is 
strong in their power to save the country. Above all let us not lose our 
hope in God. He may chasten, but he will lead us." 

When Dr. Bethune was abroad and our national affairs 
grew more gloomy he became almost beside himself with 
anxiet3^ Still he defended his country on all occasions. 
In Florence, talking with some Englishmen, they said, 
'' that we would have to change our government. What 
we wanted was a king, that was the divine plan.'^ " Yes," 
replied the Doctor, " God did give Israel a king, but do you 
know how he gave him ? He gave him * in his wrath.' 
And then gentlemen, did you ever notice what sort of a 
man was chosen to rule over them ? ' A keeper of asses.' '' 

Dr. B's address at the funeral of Hon. Benjamin F. Butler, 
presents his idea of a patriot's duty, and those who 
loved him can now appropriate the touching allusions to 
the speaker himself: 

*' This was tlie character of him whom we mourn, yet, rather congrat- 
ulate, for his testimony to the power of Christianity. He was a man. 
lie put nothing away from him that was man. I do not, and, I am sure 
he would not, adopt the sentiment casually and but partially expressed 
by my dear and reverend friend (Dr. Sprague), who ' almost' regretted 
to find him fighting in the controversies of poUtical life. My friends, I 



BENJAMIN F. BUTLER. 371 

ask you— as he would have asked — why should a man, because he is a 
Christian, be unfaithful to his country ? What is the use of his religion, 
as a citizen, if it does not consecrate him to his political duties ? I do 
not know how it may strike you— some of you doubtless have agreed 
with him, some have differed from him, and others have at various times, 
agreed, or differed from him and with him, as I have, but this is true, that 
if we had more Benjamin F. Butlers in our political life, we should have 
a better government and a better State. It is because you, Christian 
men, do not do your duty as citizens at primary meetings, at the polls, 
and in more public offices, it is because you do not do your duty, that 
our land is given up so much to trading, office-seekers, and hired gladia- 
tors. We may not all think alike, but I should as soon think of excom- 
municating a man from my Christian sympathy, because he was a Baj)- 
tist or an Episcopalian, as of denying a man's patriotism because his 
views of political expediency or doctrine were not the same as my own. 
It is preposterous to say that where a country, like ours, is divided so 
nearly into two great parties, that one or the other half of the nation 
must be either rogues or fools. 

But when we have men of large and noble minds and sentiments, to 
discuss those questions of difference, when we have men whose hearts 
are controlled by responsibility to God, who in all the earnestness of 
working out their own salvation, cannot forget the interests of their coun- 
try, as public servants, tiien may we hope for better things than now. 
The character of Mr. Butler was consistent throughout. Whatever 
might have been said of him in the hurly-burly of political strife, in the 
glow and heat of party contest, there is not one who can stand beside 
that coffin, and say of the sleeper within it, that he was not a true 

man. 

I beg pardon for allowing myself to be led so far out on this sub- 
ject, but I feel strongly what I say. 

When the great Pompey was sick at Neapolis, and was supposed 
to be near death, the whole population put garlands on their heads, 
and went to the house in which he lay, to congratulate him upon so 
happy and easy a close of such an honoured life. He recovered, 
and he recovered to die at last, assassinated by a eunuch and a slave 
upon a desert shore. 

My friends, I have more of congratulation for the spirit whicliani- 



372 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

mated tliis clay than I have of grief. He lived well ; he died well ; 
and now he lives foreverraore ! Not a shadow over his precious mem- 
ory, except the softening light of that blessed evening, the precursor 
of a mornmg which shall never ftide. No abatement of his natural 
strength, no failure of his strong mind, no chiil of his ardent heart; 
nothing to regret ; all to hope for. Did he not die well ? 

It was in a foreign land, — but those who were dearest to his heart 
brought home about his bed, — and Paris is as near to Heaven as 
New York. He died well. And he went to his heavenly home, not 
unwelcomed. There was one to meet him on the very threshold of 
his Father's house — one, after whom we may believe his heart, since 
he lost her for a brief season, never ceased to yearn. He died well ! 
He lives forever! 

He was a man whose piety was his life, and you will pardon me for 
recurring to that theme for a moment. My dear mother said to me once, 
of a person whose manner I had spoken well of, ' My son, he puts on 
his politeness as he does liis best coat. Give me a man whose politeness 
is in his skin ! ' So it was in Mr. Butler's religion. It was part of him- 
self. There was no affectation about it. No one ever supposed there was. 
It shone out of his bright eye, (can it be, that that bright eye will never 
shine on us again?) it beamed from his countenance, it came from his 
heart. It was a transfiguration from within, that made his life so beauti- 
ful in all the grace and kindness of a Christian gentleman. 

Let me say one word more, as I look over this assembly. I am a 
younger man than Mr. Butler, though a difference often years is not 
what it was when we were boys. I see before me many, of every period of 
life, some older, some younger. But how many are absent ? How many 
of those Avho were associated with us, whom we have loved, and hon- 
oured, and cherished, with whom we have walked together, how 
many have gone, and how rapidly is the number diminishing. "We 
must all come to it, my friends. We, too, must die, and die soon. Are 
we ready ? " 

These selections from his intimate writings, if we may be 
allowed the expression, together with his published speeches, 
will suffice to show how thoroughly he loved his country 
and how well he would have satisfied even Dr. Johnson by 



LOVE OF COUNTRY. 873 

the thorough way in which he hated those who wished her 
ill ; indeed, he said that he never so much felt the want 
of a sou that he might consecrate him to the service of his 
country. 



374 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 



CHAPTER XIV. 

DEPARTURE FROM BROOKLYN — RESIDENCE IN NEW YORK 
RETURN TO EUROPE. 

We must now retrace our steps. In the year 1858 Dr. 
Bethune was elected Professor of Church History and Pas- 
toral Theology in the Theological Seminary at New Bruns- 
wick ; but he could not be drawn from his pastoral work. 
As it was thought that his name and services would give 
strength to the institution, he consented to give a course of 
lectures on '' Pulpit Eloquence" during the next session. 
He wrote: "The arrangement is however a very laborious 
iiiid trying one for me ; it takes me away from 10, a. m. to 
10, p. M., and adding the Monday's work to the Sabbath's, 
I am pretty well done over, and my Tuesdays are dreadfully 
Mondayish. I am trying to do what is in my power, but I 
liave had no experience as a teacher, and fear that I shall 
not accomplish much during my brief term of duty.'' 

He was mistaken about the success of his lectures ; they 
were counted the charm of the Seminary. 

In the spring, circumstances led him to arrange a series 
of those popular lectures which were so eagerl}' sought for, 
and he delivered ten in as many different places within two 
weeks. But the over-exertion and intense excitement of 
these labors were too great for his strength, and premoni- 
tory S3nnptoms, of which he had been warned; culminated in 
an attack of apoplexy. 



FIRST ATTACK OF APOPLEXY. 375 

This great misfortune befell Dr. Bethune about the middle 
of February, 1859. He was seized in the night with stupor 
from vv'hieh he did not recover for some hours and it is 
related that on his return to consciousness, beholding Drs. 
Rosman and McClelland at his bedside, he, with his abound- 
ing humor, exclaimed , '' Have the North and South Poles 
came together ? Allopathy and Homeopathy ?" Upon being- 
informed that he had been dangerously sick, the merry spirit 
left him and he exhibited the serious mien of a man on the 
border of eternity. 

There was, it is true, no paralyis resulting from this attack, 
but it left him exposed to the danger of another at any 
moment. It forced him to abandon his occupations, to leave 
the country, and quit his parishioners with such precipitation 
that we can hardly wonder at the misunderstanding which 
seems to have taken place. 

" Rest your mind," said all the physicians, *' Take things 
more easily," "Cast away care," "Enjoy yourself." ''No 
one," writes the discreet Dunglison, " can be more prudent 
in regard to diet than yourself; but attention is needed to all 
the non-naturalSt as the older jDhysicians termed them, and 
of these, the mental efforts are apt to be the most neglected, 
not, perhaps, that the mere exercise of the brain may be 
injurious, but it is too apt to lead to a neglect of the due 
precautions of exercise, regularity of meals, &c., &c." 

A sailing vessel bound for Naples was engaged and our 
broken-down minister sought that repose which alone could 
restore his nervous energy. But the voyage was too full of 
anxiety, and the invalid was writing letters when he should 
have been resting his wearied faculties. Nothing could be 
finer, more affectionate, than his first message, breathing 
towards his flock the very spirit of an Apostle. 



376 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

"Naples, Sabbath Evening, April, 1859. 
Dearly Beloved Feiexds : The impulse of my heart was to ad- 
dress you as ' my dear people,' as I have for so many years loved to 
do, but I check my pen from the sore, sorrowful remembrance that 
that happy privilege is no longer mine. No change of circumstances 
can change the affection I bear to you, an affection which has con- 
tinually increased with the length and closeness of our relations as 
people and pastor. I should be utterly unworthy of the regard, kind- 
ness and respect wliich you have ever shown me, if I could cease to be 
grateful to you for the many proofs of your love which I have received, 
or thankful to God for having given such a rich evidence of his favor 
as the friendship of such friends and the pastorship of such a flock, 
gathered and established as a Church of Christ, by his blessing on my 
unworthy instrumentahty. You will not, you cannot believe me 
capable of any other feelings towards you. Yet weeks have passed 
away since I was obliged to leave you, and weeks must pass before 
these words will reach you from a heart overflowing with sorrow and 
love. The same painful and imperious circumstances, which compelled 
me to leave my once happy home in Brooklyn, (mine no longer) so 
suddenly, and in order to do SvT with propriety made it, as I supposed, 
my duty to resign my call into the hands of your Consistory, did not 
alloAv me to address you a word of farewell personally or by letter. 
My physicians, fearing a return in a more dangerous form of the ail- 
ment which had affected me so seriously, ordered me in a most per- 
emptory manner to abstain from all excitements of mind or feeling. 
To obey them entirely in that respect was impossible. My heart 
yearned to see the friends who I knew were crowding around my door, 
and to speak to them that I might thank them for their sympathy as 
well as to take counsel with them. As I turned from side to side on 
my sleepless bed, my brain swam with the thoughts and words I would 
fain have uttered from the pulpit. But I was not permitted to vSpeak, 
and I could not then keep up the continuous action of writing. I 
remonstrated with the doctors. I told them that the repression of my 
feelings was more dangerous to me than their utterance could be — 
that I must communicate Avith my friends, or they might, from ignor- 
ance of the circumstances misjudge — perhaps think hardly of me ; and 
that if they would not allow me to speak, they (the physicians) must 
speak for me. This they readily consented to do, and as I have reason 



LETTER TO HIS BROOKLYN FRIENDS. 377 

to believe they kept their word. One of them, my excellent and most 
faithful friend, Doctor Rosman, who for many years has been more 
familiar with me and my house than any other person, (not an inmate 
of my family,) and certainly, as a parishioner, with warm attachments 
to me, assured me that he had done so as widely and as decidedly as 
he could. In these circumstances I yielded, believing that I was under 
God in the physicians' hands, as the persons best qualified to judge of 
my duty ; and also relying with confidence upon the candor and kind- 
ness of my people to secure me from any possible suspicion of any 
wilful neglect, much less any want of respect and regard for them. 
The hand of the Lord was upon me, what could 1 do but be still under 
his chastenings. I shall, indeed, have labored among you, sympathiz- 
ing with your griefs and joys, and receiving the confidences of your 
hearts, for so many years, to little effect, if you could believe me 
indifferent to your peace, or disregardtul of your feelings. 

This is, therefore, the first moment that I could address you. The 
kindness of Providence brought us here in safety yesterday. Day after 
to-morrow is the first mail-day for England. I write thus, without 
reserve or delay, as the thoughts flow from my heart along my pen, 
to tell you, beloved friends, before the God whose presence is Avith 
us both, that nothing but what I believe a moral necessity led me to 
ask the Consistory to release me from my pastoral responsibility, that 
I might take the steps which I conscientiously believed were best 
adapted to the restoration of my health, or, rather, the preservation 
of my life. Thus far Providence has not frowned on me. The bracing 
air of the sea, the seclusion of the ship, and I trust a higher blessing, 
have done a great deal towards strengthening me — nay, so much so 
that I have strong hope of being restored to my country in the autumn 
with a new lease of life, which T pray for, if it be for my Master's 
glory and my eternal good. The Friend who sticketh closer than a 
brother, has not forsaken me, but was with me as I walked under the 
shadow of death. Xever has that blessed gospel which you have loved 
to hear from my lips, appeared more true, more precious, more 
necessary to the soul's peace than since I have been afflicted. Pray 
for me, dear friends, that my faith fail not, and that I may lie passive 
in 7iis hands whose will is best for you, and me, and all of us. The 
brevity of my time will not allow me to say more at present. There 
are many particulars into which I cannot now enter. If it please God 



378 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

to bring me aojain alive to my comitry (I Lave now no other name for 
home), I shall be glad to make any other explanations that may be 
desired, being sure that the more my conduct is scrutinized in all its 
bearings, the more I shall have of your sympathy, the less of your 
blame. I have endeavored to do what, from the light I had, appeared 
to be not merely right but necessary. Certain it is, that I have left 
you for no lucre or advantage of this world. 

These, on former occasions, I did not suffer to persuade me from 
you. My illness was not my fault, yet it may very well have been 
that my judgment was erroneous, and that I might have acted more 
wisely. The character of my illness (whatever it was) might have 
shaken a stronger brain than mine. Pray that my sins and errors may 
be forgiven, and that the Chief Shepherd would overrule all for the 
good of the church, your good, my good, and the glory of his dear 
name. Men are nothing but instruments. They pass away, but the 
testimony of the Lord abideth forever, and that testimony is with his 
chosen. Stand fast in his faith, his love, and his service : and in the 
end it will be seen that he hath done all things well. The same Holy 
Spirit, who has so abundantly blessed you through my poor instru- 
mentality, has perchance removed me to bless you yet more abundantly 
through the labors of others entering upon mine. It is my heart's 
desire and prayer that He will, until those of you now without are 
brought into the covenant, and the whole church be glorified. 

Finally, my brethren, farewell ; be perfect ; be of one mind ; live 
m peace ; and the very God of love and of peace shall be with you 
all. 

Geo. W. Bethune." 

Thus terminated his relation to the " Church on the 
Heights." His ministry of about six years and a half had 
been a great success. Having commenced with a small 
nucleus, the people had erected a splendid church edifice; 
the congregation embraced more than 200 families and 
there were 445 members in communion, and the contribu- 
tions during his pastorate reached the handsome amount of 
$154,945.87. Dr. Bethune wrote, " Our increase has at no 



o< 



one time been large, but has been steadily encouraging." 
"We are indebted to his faithful friend, an elder of the church, 
Mr. Tenyck Sutphen, for the following account of his 
pastor's ministry. "The work accomplished during his 
ministry among us Avas immense. No sooner had he gotten 
fairly at work in the congregation of the Old Central 
Church, than he felt the great need of more enlarged church 
accomodations and the necessity of a new organization. The 
accomplishment of these objects was almost at once resolved 
upon. The new church edifice was completed within a little 
more than a year from the time of its commencement, and I 
think it may with truth be said that the interior beauty of 
this temple surpasses that of almost any other church in our 
great cities. The inscription, carved into the stone freize 
above the columns, ' To the Triune God,' as enduring as the 
Church itself, was placed there at his suggestion. 

After the dedication, Dr. B. commenced a series of Sabbath 
evening discourses on the Parables of our Saviour^ which 
were continued nearly through the follovv'ing winter and 
which drew crowded houses. Great activity marked every 
department of the new enterprise, whether in large-hearted 
benevolence to almost every worthy object, or in the real 
work of church progress. Our home Sabbath school was 
brought into a most flourishing condition ; then, a large and 
most interesting Bible class taught by the Doctor on a week 
day was quickly commenced and largely attended ; next, the 
Bethesda mission school was gathered and carried on by our 
church. Next in order, was the establishment of the 
Summit Street Chapel and Sabbath school, a branch of the 
' Church on the Heights,' placed under the care of the Rev. 
Dr. Quackenbush. 

Dr. B's heart was in the work and here he often used to 



380 MEMOIR OF GEO. \V. BETHUNE, D. D. 

preach of a Sabbath evening, after liaving preached twice 
the same day in his * Church on the Heights.' 

Next was the estabhshnieut of the Myrtle Avenue mission 
school, a most thrifty enterprise of some hundreds of scholars ; 
these three mission Sabbath schools were all conducted by 
teachers from his church, numbering over eighty thus 
engaged. The whole number of scholars taught in all our 
schools was 695. Dr. Bethune had an extraordinary foculty 
of drawing the young people of his congregation about him, 
making them love him ; and then he would set them at work, 
feeling that the good they would gain to themselves in the 
Sabbath school would be great. Thus, through his influence, 
the young men's Sabbath afternoon meetings to pray for a 
blessing upon his jDreaching of the word were established, 
and many used to flock into these meetings immediately 
after the sermon, the Doctor very frequently following ; 
indeed, he leaned much uj)on the strength derived from 
answers to those j^rayers. 

He sought the prayers of the older people at their Sabbath 
morning gatherings to aid him through the labors of the day, 
and then, when his work w^as ended, he looked for the bless- 
ing upon it through the prayers of the young. 

Notwithstanding the constant pressure upon his time, he 
seemed to know, as by intuition, every sick and dying one 
among his congregation, and was sure to be at their bed- 
sides in the hour of extremity. None knew better than he 
how to give comfort in the chamber of affliction. ' Let 
your tears flow ; moui'ning is not murmuring,' said the Doc- 
tor, to a poor heart-broken widow, as w^e entered her abode ; 
and those words were electrical to calm her troubled spirit, 
hushing that chamber of death to the stillness of silent 
sorrow. A friend writes : 



MINISTRY IX BROOKLYN. 381 

* Oh ! those Friday evening meetings for prayer, how near the Sa- 
viour seemed to be in those calm hours ! Here and there among his 
congregation are those who were laid as a weight upon his soul, and he 
at times felt that he could have no peace, until they came to a knowl- 
edge of salvation. My friends, (this was his common form of ad- 
dressing them) if you realized the importance of this change of heart 
as I do, you would give yourself no rest day or night until you had 
secured an interest in the great salvation.' 

Few public speakers understood so perfectly as Dr. Be- 
thune how to give the most telling efifect to every gesture. 
'JMy friends, it is cold ! very cold ! ' said the Doctor, as 
he wrapped the folds of his robe about him, at the close of 
a Thanksgiving sermon, on a chill November day. ' Ee- 
memher the poor ; ' and he would set his hearers an example 
of most liberal giving, often thrusting % 50 into the plate 
at any special collection. 

The Doctor said, in relation to the same subject, " I would 
as soon try to cultivate a farm without rain, as a church 
without Benevolence.'' One night, at the close of his ap- 
peal for funds, in aid of the Brooklyn City Tract Societv, 
(Doctor Cutler being in the chair) he sank down almost ex- 
hausted, with the remark, ' Oh ! Dr. Cutler, I wish I had 
as many dollars for you as I have words.' " 

One of the great features of this ministry was a course 
of Sermons, illustrative of the Heidelberg Catechism. 
These were preached, according to the order of his church, 
and the pastor clothed them v\4th all the interest that his 
well-stored mind, and gifts of eloquence could bestow. 
They embrace a complete system of theology, and have 
been published in two crown octavo volumes. 

From the Bible class mentioned before, we have delight- 
ful reminiscences : 



382 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

*' It was attended by forty or fifty ladies, and the Doctor took great 
pains always to meet his engagement with them. At times we ap- 
peared to approach so near the gates of the celestial city, we thought 
we could almost look within. Once in our class, he remarked, * One of 
my favorite theories, with regard to our heavenly home, is, that we 
shall love best in Heaven, those who have been*instrumental in leading 
us nearest the Saviour while on earth.' After the lesson was con- 
cluded, I said to him, ' Dear Doctor, if your favorite theory should 
prove true, I shall love you very much when I reach home.' 'Ah ! my 
child,' said he, pressing my head, while the tears filled his eyes, ' that 
will make Heaven to me.' 

I can hardly believe that any member of that Bible class can ever 
go very far astray in theology. To tliis day, when difficulties of a theo- 
logical nature have arisen in my own mind, the instructions of Doctor Be- 
thune come before me with such strength that every error vanishes in- 
stantly. 

He was so courteous to us all. If a timid one gave an answer not 
quite correct, he made his ever ready excuse, ' I put the question so 
awkwardly, you could not understand,' and then the question so re- 
peated, that the answer must be perceived. Indeed, he was a perfect 
pattern of a courteous, dignified. Christian gentleman. 

Never can I forget his putting the question, whether it were ever right, 
under any circumstances, to tell a lie ? He brought up Paley's argu- 
ments, and permitted us to discuss the subject as long as we would. 
Then came his own quiet answer, shewing his unfaltering trust in the 
God who cannot lie. ' Never, never, can it be right,' said he, ' no mat- 
ter what are the circumstances ; leave yourself, leave all you love to 
God, he can take care of you, no matter how great the danger, he can 
provide a way of escape, but rather, far rather, give up your life than 
tell an untruth. 

The Doctor was one day reasoning with a friend on the subject of 
Apostolic succession, in which the gentleman was a strong believer, 
Avhen the Doctor proposed to test the question ; he said to his friend, 
* You know the Apostles had the power to take up serpents without 
being injured, now if your convention of Bishops which are met in New 
York, will permit me to upset a box of rattlesnakes among them, and 
no one is injured, it might convince me.' 



BIBLE CLASS IN BROOKLYN. 383 

One day Doctor B. asked by what agency our progress in knowledge, 
sanctification and perfection was to be carried on in Heaven ? The 
question caused some surpiise. Miss C. said, * Why, I thought our 
probation ended with this life.' ' So it does,' he replied, 'we shall sin 
no more, and be beyond the reach of temptation, but we shall progress 
for ever.' Finding no one answered him, I said, ' I suppose the Holy 
Spirit is the agent of our progress there, as he is here ; ' Doctor B. re- 
plied that those were his views. 

I recollect one lecture on prayer, in which he said, * Prayer is the 
golden conduit, through which our desires ascend to God, and His grace 
descends to us ; ' he remarked, • My sweetest hour for communion with 
God, is at midnight, when I am secure from interruption. The heart 
must be poured out in prayer ; do with it as you do with the upper drawer 
of your bureau, which seems to be a receptacle for stray articles ; turn 
it upside down, that you may see what sins you have forgotten or over- 
looked.' " 

But before leaving Brooklyn, a record should be made of 
a charming literary association, such as Dr. Bethune loved 
to gather about him. Dr. Vinton relates : 

" Our club was styled, ' The Friends,' consisting of Dr. Bethune, Dr. 
Storrs, Dr. Vinton, of the clergy, and Messrs Pierrepont, Brevoort, Sil- 
liman, Whitehouse, Enibury, Van Wagener, Minor, Humphreys, Cong- 
don, and H. K. Brown, Huntington, artists, who had the privilege of in- 
viting a guest, whenever tlie club met at their respective houses. 

This meeting began informally, by a banquet given to the three clergy- 
men, after their joint course of Public Lectures. The club flourished 
till death entered and thinned its numbers, and now is among ' the mem- 
ories of joys that are past,' which, 'like the music of Carrol, are sweet 
and pleasant, yet mournful to the soul.' " 

From Italy, Dr. and Mrs. Bethune passed to Switzerland, 
when a delightful intimacy was formed with Rev. Dr. Geo. 
L. Prentiss, and in the autumn Dr. Bethune reached New 
York, to be welcomed " by scores of parishioners, with 
great affection.'^ But he wrote to Dr. Prentiss : 



384 MEMOIR or GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

*' The leadings of Providence seem to indicate that a change of 
sphere will be better for my usefulness and comfort. What that sphere 
will be, I cannot yet say, but there is no lack of opportunities offered to 
nie. I leave myself in the hands where I love best to be. ' The Lord 
has been my help, therefore under the shadow of his wings Avill I re- 
joice.'" 

And God did take good care of his faithful servaat. 
Mrs. Anson G. Phelps opened the doors of her hospitable 
mansion at Tarrytown. Proposals were made by a church 
in Boston. The University of Pennsylvania offered its 
Provostship, The course which this negotiation took was 
peculiar, interesting and instructive. Dr. Dunglison was 
the interpreter : 

Dr. Bethune to Dr. Dunglison. " October 6, lSc59. 

The University movement towards me, is very flattering. I consider 
it a very high compliment, and am very grateful to my friends who have 
so gracefully honored me. 

Nothing could have been more unexpected. I desire very much to see 
you, but could not before I came this way; when I return, whicli will be 
in about a fortnight, I shall try hard to run over and report myself to you. 
By that time the October meeting of the University Board will have met 
and we may talk it over." 

Dpv. Betuune to Dk. Dunglison. " Octohe}- 27, 1859. 

I found that my affairs demanded my closest attention, proposals of 
different kinds demanding my regard. Neither would I have liked to be 
spoken of as canvassing more Philadelphians. As I have been nom- 
inated, and- the nomination is known, I should of course prefer not to 
answer any questions as to whether I would or would not, until tlio 
proper time came. At the same time I could not trifle with my friends. 

Much as I esteem the honor of being elected to such a post, it is not so 
necessary to me tliat I would run amuck to attain it, and I should prefer 
withdrawal to defeat, or a doubtful contest. I am therefore glad to know 
that I have friends whose discretion is equal to their zeal." 



CORRESPONDENCE WITH DR. DUNGLISOX. 385 

Dk. Eetiiune to Dr. Dunglison. " November 1. 1859. 

As regards the wish of the trustees to kuow what I would do In a certain 
event, it is quite natural, and had they asked the question before I was 
nominated and the nomination known to the public, it would have been 
very reasonable. It is true that, as regards the latter consideration, 
your movement with that of other friends in my favor softens the case. 
But there is another practical difiiculty in the way of such a contingent 
answer. I am solicited in other quarters, and by some considerable 
attractions ; other propositions are ripening, about which I may or may 
not (more probably may) decide before the Trustees talk plainly to me. 
I cannot therefore so tie myself as to refuse (in effect) every other prop- 
osition, present or future, in waiting on the University. If they press 
me for an answer, wisdom, such as I have, dictates one in the negative, 
for (as I am sure you will not be sorry to know) your friend is somewhat 
in demand, and likely to be more so after a certain event which will 
transpire to-morrow, is known to the community. 

I have a high estimation of the Provostship as a post of honorable 
importance, and a still higher respect for the Board of Trustees, who 
were in my time, and doubtless are still, a body not excelled in character 
and dignity by any in the land ; but, notwithstanding, I cannot sec the 
necessity or the expediency of accepting or refusing what, through not a 
few accidents, may never be offered me." 

Dr. Bethunb to Dr. Ddnglison. '•^November 10, 1859. 

Dear Dr. Dunglisox : Since we parted on Sunday evening, I have 
endeavored to give due weight to the considerations you urged in favor 
of my accepting the Provostship of the University of Pennsylvania, at 
the same time assuring me that there was no reasonable doubt of my 
being elected to the chair, if I was disposed towards it. 

I now fulfil my promise of writing to you in a few days. 

It is, so far as my experience goes, not usual to ask a gentleman 
whether he will or will not accept an office, before it is distinctly tendered 
to him, and I believe that the rule for professional men in such circum- 
stances is to give no answer, or if pressed, to answer in the negative. I 
appreciate the reasons why the Board would like a favorable expression 
from me, before they go to the length of putting the office to my option ;, 
but, strong as the reasons arc for the Board's pursuit of such a course, 
25 



386 MEMOIR OF GEO. AV. BETHUNE, D. D. 

there are reasons as strong why a nominee should decline to commit 
himself before the proper time. 

However I am not inclined to be punctilious where the intention 
towards me is so generous, or to put the Board of the University to any 
unnecessary trouble on my account, and therefore, in the absence of 
any communication from them, I beg you to do me the favor of commu- 
nicating to the Board what I shall now say in such manner as shall be 
most convenient to you. 

I consider the offer which has been made me of the Provostship of the 
University of Pennsylvania, as a very high honor, and one of which I 
am sorry to say, I am not deserving. The importance of the oflBlce is 
great, and the position it gives, a very high one, but still more do I es- 
timate the evidence I have had of the confidence and esteem entertained 
for me by the gentlemen comprising the Board of Trustees. 

When I had the honor to be one of that Board, I heard one of my 
fellow members (Mr. Brock) say that he considered his place in that 
body one of the very highest distinctions of his life ; a sentiment I was 
only too happy to share. Many of our associates there have passed 
away, but as I look over the list of the present members, I see that the 
Board has suffered no diminution of dignity, social influence, and large 
intelligence. Most grateful am I to Divine Providence and to the Board, 
that I have been deemed fit to receive such a distinction at their hands. 

Had the appointment been given me immediately on my return to 
this country, I should have been strongly moved to accept it with 
pleasure, especially as it would have enabled me to resume my residence 
in Philadelphia, where I spent fifteen of my happiest years, and where I 
have many friends very dear to my heart. 

But it cannot be. My conscientious reluctance to leave the pulpit as 
my sphere of usefulness has been increased by a call from a church in 
my native city, offering me strong inducements of every kind to accept 
it, and I have done so. 

Nothing then remains for me but to thank the Board of the University 
for the honor they intended to do me, and to beg they will assign it to 
some one more fitted to receive it than, 

Yours very faithfully, 

Geo. W. Bethtjne. 

eoblet dunglison, m. d. 

Philadelphia." 



INSTALLATION AT NEW YORK. 387 

This negotiation, if pursued with less cautiousness, might 
have terminated more to the advantage of the University. 
The man whom they preferred was not within their reach. 
He had received a call as Associate minister of the Twenty- 
First Street Church, N. Y., with a salary of $5,000 a year. 
This handsome offer was accepted, and, on November twen- 
tieth, he was installed to labor in conjunction with the 
writer of this memoir. 

The original design in this union was to establish another 
church in the growing part of the city, but in view of Dr. 
Bethune's uncertain health, this was soon abandoned. Still 
the relation was most delightful and profitable. Every day 
brought to the junior pastor its pleasant interviews. The 
church, which had always met with fair success, was now 
crowded to overflowing. During the first year the Doctor 
sustained his part of the service. A course of evening 
lectures on the Divine names and perfections was very in- 
teresting. Later there came an occasional note requesting 
relief from duty, after the Fort Sumter meeting of 1861 ; and 
when afterwards the Doctor removed to Catskill, he almost 
ceased from preaching. 

In July, 1860, Mrs. Joanna Bethune was taken to her rest. 
The grief had been borne long before, in seeing the decay of 
her faculties ; but the son whose youth had been guided by 
her wisdom, had the privilege of returning those bounties, 
and when he closed her eyes in death, his manly sorrow was 
not embittered by vain regrets over filial duty unfulfilled. 
He had commenced the memoir of this remarkable lady before 
leaving America for the last time ; the sheets were placed 
for completion, in the hands of Rev. Dr. Prime, of the New 
York Observer, and in due season the volume appeared. 



SSS MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

The love between mother and son was wonderful. Is it 
not true that great men have almost always had great 
mothers ? 

Brief quotations from Dr. Bethune's correspondence with 
the writer, will show a remarkable progress in grace, and a 
loosening hold from earthly things. Speaking of a sick 
minister, he wrote : 

" But that we know the Master has all things in his nail-scarred hands, 
it would be sad to see one like Mm wasting in the midst of his days." 

" The daylight may soon come, but tilings look very dark now ; still I 
am not unhappy, trusting, as I ought, to that blessed Providence which 
has all along been so good to me. However, the ways of Providence are 
not always those we have marked out for ourselves, and we must follow, 
not dictate to Him who orders all things well." 

*' It is rather sad to be so helpless as we two old people are, but the 
Lord, I trust, will think upon us the more we are obliged to lean upon 
him. It is a necessity not without its sweetness, which allows us 
nothing to lean upon between us and Him." 

*' I think that a Sabbath spent by one's self has its use ; it allows us a 
time for self-examination which we seldom get, and makes us more 
intent on personal communion with God, for which no public service 
can be a substitute." 

" I can do nothing to help you to-morrow, but pray for God's bless- 
ing on his own word which I know you will preach ; you will not forget 
to pray for me in private as well as public, as a poor, sinful man, whose 
hope in bodily and spiritual infirmity is that he may have strength from 
God through Jesus Christ." 

*' I am up rather early on this lovely morning, and from the window 
near which I am writing, the river calm as a mirror and the green woods 
and hills beyond it, look very sweet and lovely, putting one in mind of 

* Sweet fields beyond the swelling flood 
All dressed in living green,' 

only that to-day the flood does not swell, but is the image of repose." 
*' It is well thus to be weaned from this world, though the process is 



ILL HEALTH. 389 

trjang. I acknowledge that I am depressed in spirits, body, mind, and 
what is worse, heart ; I suppose I might liave more courage if I were 
stronger, but the difficulty is that /am weak" 

" I have not been well since I left Catskill, indeed I fear that you 
should place little reliance on my poor help, either for next Sunday or 
after, unless God in his mercy be pleased to give me more health." 

** We cannot eradicate real disease by ignoring or forgetting it, and 
the conviction of our mortality is healthful for the soul ; I try to put my 
mind in a proper frame, nor do I wish to be gloomy. Freedom from 
care, I mean anxious, haunting care, is what I need, at least at the 
present." 

" My neuralgia in the head is very distressing and frequent, and my 
left leg is so weak that I cannot walk far, and totter unless I use extreme 
caution, or move very deliberately; the fact is, I am a used-up man. 
Both Dunglison (who has quite as favorable an opinion of me as 
Hosack,) and Ilosack himself, whatever some one has told you that he 
said, charge me that I must be on my guard against excitement, partic- 
ularly emotional excitement. A pretty preacher I shall make without 
excitement, or being continually engaged in repressing emotions, 
especially since people expect excitement and emotion from me : yet I 
must be so cautious on pain of an apoplexy or a paralysis ! No, my 
dear friend; I am sorry that you are so hopeful, for you will be 
disappointed ; I shall have to give up, I cannot go on with my work, but 
must bow to a will higher than yours or mine. This is so. I beg you 
to believe it." 

" I desire and aim at submission to my Master's will, but need much 
more simple faith than I have. Undoubtedly my state of health affects 
my spiritual perceptions, but it is not all a matter of nerves, and my 
constant prayer is, God be merciful to me a sinner ! " 

" ' We're poor critters,' " said the widow Bedott, and so say I, and so 
will say you, taking me as a specimen. It is only a few days ago that I 
was so chirpy and so thankful because my fever seemed to have left me, 
and now I am bowed down by a terrible, that word is not too strong, 
terrible old nervous headache, or rather a headache that I think and 
hope is neuralgic, at the back of the head. It goes and comes, but 
it comes a good deal more than it goes, for it stays with me longer than 



390 MEMOm OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

it stays away : I have been subject to it more or less for years past, 
but it is worse than ever before ; taking advantage of my weakness. As 
it is, it unfits me for anything and tortures me, so that I do not see how 
I can go to help you this week. 

I am thoroughly convinced that I ought to go abroad, and, unless 
prevented, wish to go at the latest between the 1st and 15th October. I 
ought to get leave from the Consistory. How shall that be done, and 
what shall I ask for ? Leave of absence or separation ? I had no idea, 
until you suggested otherwise, of anything else but resignation, in which 
case the action of Classis would be required. If however you desire 
that I should retain my association under any arrangements, I will do 
as you say, only it must not be in any way to embarrass you or the 
church." 

These extracts, most of which were written from Cats* 
kill, show that God was ripening his saint for glory. This 
residence on the Hudson, which had been taken with such 
anticipations of pleasure, where he had bought land and 
was building castles in the air, was really a scene of great 
trial, a place of Babylonish captivity, where God taught his 
servant that this world was not his home. 

For two years he had lived under the constant apprehen- 
sion of death, and never retired at night without saying the 
prayer his mother had taught him : 

" Now I lay me down to sleep 
I pray the Lord my soul to keep. 
If I should die before I wake 
I pray the Lord my soul to take." 

On the 20th of May he had received another warning; 
his arm (luckily not the writing arm) and leg were numbed 
and sleepy and there were symptoms of pressure on the 
brain. He had become acutely sensitive to every sign of 
his malady, and a trip to Europe was resolved upon as the 
only hope. 



LEAVES NEAV YORK. 391 

Db. Bethune to Dr. Ddnglison. ^^ oOdi Juhj. 

I am better on the whole, dear Doctor, my leg is weak but not so 
much so as it was, and noAv that I have little fever my spirits are better. 
I have not, however, courage for work, and get more worried over the 
troubles of the country. I feel strongly inclined to escape for a while 
to some distant spot where I can live cheaply in a milder climate. You 
say that I must avoid emotional excitement. I cannot preach without 
emotions and those of the strongest, often of the most insurgent (?) 
kind." 

To THE Consistory of the reformed Dutch Church, Twenty- 
first St.New York. "New York, Avj, 30th, 1861. 

Dear Brethren : It is not without great pain that I address to you 
this communication, the necessity for which I regard as a sore affliction 
from the hands of God. 

The relation I have been permitted to sustain towards you and my 
beloved friend, your pastor. Dr. Van Nest, for nearly two years, has been 
to me a source of great enjoyment, and I trust of genuine profit ; may I 
not also hope of usefulness in my ministry ? Most gladly would I con- 
tinue it while God permits me to live and labor, but if I read his Provi- 
dence aright he wills it otherwise ; my health which received a severe 
and sudden shock in the early spring of 1859, and which I fondly hoped 
had been in a good measure restored, has, since May last, shown some 
marked sjTuptoms of decay. In truth, the excitement of the times and 
my various efforts to do what I thought was my duty in the perilous 
state of the country, have been too much for the plethoric tendency of 
my head, and my faithful physician earnestly forbids my exposing myself 
to those forms of excitement which spring from strong emotions or se- 
vere brain labor. He also as earnestly recommends a change of 
winter climate. Tlie exigencies of Mrs. Bethune's health coincide -odth 
those of my own. In this state of things, I have determined, with your 
kind permission to follow Doctor Hosack's counsel and seek in a foreign 
land the change which we need, and some relief from the exciting 
events constantly agitating our unhappy country. 

It is therefore my desire, and, with your consent, my purpose, to go to 
the south of Europe about the beginning of October, or before the cold 
and after the stormy season. My petition to you now is that you will 



392 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETIIUNE, D. D. 

grant me the required leave of abseuce. I do not fix any time for my 
return, considering the state of my health and other circumstances too 
precarious for such anticipations. 

If, on consultation with my dear colleague, you shall deem it more 
proper or more expedient that the official relation between us should be 
dissolved, I will readily unite with you in steps necessary to that end ; 
but in any event I shall consider you in no way restrained from making 
such arrangements for the church as you may see fit. 

I am frank to say that nothing short of what appears the necessity of 
my case would induce me to leave my place among you. I have been 
very happy and very thankful as one of your pastors, and shall ever, 
while I live, be grateful to God and to you for the many enjoyments I 
have had in my ministry to your church. What God has in store for 
me I cannot tell; but I never expect to find on earth, more pleasant 
friends, more agreeable work, or kinder parishioners than I have had 
in the Twenty-first Street Church ! God bless you ! God bless all the 
dear people of the congregation ! Pray God to take care of me and 
mine in what remains to me of the present life, but especially to bless 
me as your fellow-sinner with the pardon of my guilt and his eternal 
salvation and to grant us all a happy reunion in our Father's house, 
where there will be no more pain, or grief, or parting ! 
Your aflectionate and sorrowing minister, 

Geo. W. Bethune." 



Dr. Bethune to Dr. Dunglison. "Sept. 13, 1861. 

Dear Dr. Dunglison : I have been silent for a mucl* longer time 
than I considered it possible to be, but I have been flying up and 
down, and here and there, so much, besides having so much to do, that 
I could not get an easy half-hour. I have continued to be comforta- 
ble and in good spirits since that febricule left me, and took with it 
the neuralgia from the back part of the head. It was that fever which 
put me so deeply in low spirits. My stay at Long Branch was 
of great use to me. 

Mrs. Bethune and myself have made up our minds to go abroad 
again. I had a combination of motives to press that decision. Her 
own comfort requires a milder climate than I can give her in the 
United States. My church affairs are not promising, from the state 



FAKEWELL SERMON. 393 

of the times, and New York is a most expensive place of residence, 
and I find that the endeavor to avoid emotion in the pulpit, kills my 
manner and unfits me for the control which my constitutional energy 
has hitherto given me over an audience. At any rate it is better, so 
far as I can see, for us physically, mentally, and pecuniarily, that we 
should be away for a time at least. My congregation have given me 
leave of absence and I shall retain my connection (official) with them 
for a time at least. I make no calculations about our return, leaving 
ourselves and all else in God's hands." 

On the 23d of September Dr. Bethune paid a hurried visit 
to Philadelphia, and took a final leave of his friends there. 
Very few that knew him had any faith in the permanence 
of his restoration. At the parting with Dr. Dunglison, one 
can conceive the two noble Romans saying to each other 
like Brutus and Cassius, — 

♦* Forever and forever farewell. 

If we do meet again, why, we shall smile ; 
If not, why then this parting was well made." 

On the next Lord's Day he preached an affectionate fare- 
well sermon to his people, from 2 Thess., iii.,16 ; " Now the 
Lord of peace himself give you peace always by all means. 
The Lord be with you all." The following Saturday we 
said our last greeting, but there were not many words. 
The long pressure of the hand and the tear in the eye told 
the sad story. 

Dr. Bethune to Dh. Van Kest. « At Sea, Oct. 13, 1861 . 

The excitement of preparing to come away, and a little service I 
ha<l on hand last Sunday, were together a little too much for me, and 
I suffered somewhat in the afternoon of that day, which depressed 
luy spirits as indicating that I could not have the pleasure of preach- 
in- as I had hoped to in a quiet way ; but I think that after a while I 
mav be able to do more. My heart is pained at times to thmk of my 



394 MEMOIR OF GEO. Tf. BETHUNE, D. D. 

separation from dear friends, from the pulpit in which I have been so 
happy, and from my dear country ; but when 1 think of God's good- 
ness and favors, his ' loving kindness ' and * tender mercy ' (what 
sweet words are these !) my heart melts in thankfulness till my eyes 
run over with pleasant tears. I have had my trials and feel them 
now, but if ever a simple man was called to thankfulness I am. 
Should you never see me again, or hear from me before I am sum- 
moned from life, you may say of me, ' He loved to give thanks to 
God, through Christ his Saviour.' " 

Dr. Bethune to Dk. Van Nest. 

"Birkenhead, Oct. 18, 1861. 

I think over the pleasant days I have had with you, in and out 

of the church itself, and as I cannot hope for the full renewal of such 

pleasure on earth, I comfort myself with looking upward to still 

brighter scenes in a sinless, sorrowlcss, shadowless land." 

Dr. Bethune to Dr. Van Nest. 

*' St. Pierre, Guernsey, Nov. 17, 1861. 

I think of you and the dear, pleasant sanctuary where we have had 

such sweet communion, in meditation and duty, and I yearn to know 

where you are, and what our people are doing, and contrast my best 

privileges 

(' Where'er his saints assemble now. 
There is a house for God.') 

as a stranger in a strange land, with my fellowship at home in heaven. 
However, God is teaching me, in various ways, that I am a pilgrim 
and sojourner in the earth, and should be longing for my Father's 
house where there are many mansions." 

Dr. Bethune to Dr. Prime. 

" St. Pierre, Island or Guernsey, Nov. 11, 1861 
IMy Dear Dr. Prime: You may be surprised at my dating from 
this somewhat out-of-the-way place, but I had been recommended by 
a medical friend to take Guernsey in our route to the west of France, 
because, as he thought, its climate is the best he met with in Europe ; 
and as we did not care to go to Paris, it was convenient for us to 
reach Brittany by the steamer plying to and fro between the group 
of Channel Islands, 



ISLE OF GUERNSEY. 395 

I am not sorry that we came here, especially as we were obliged to 
linger somewhere that one of our party might overtake us ; for 
although the chmate (at least in this November) is not all my friend 
thought it to be, the winds having been high and the temperature at 
night lower than we had hoped, the atmosphere is pure, and all of us 
have, I think, been more or less benefited by our sojourn here. The 
Island is very beautiful — perhaps pretty were a better word — with 
varied scenery, dotted over by graceful residences and tasteful 
grounds. The climate, also, must be remarkable for its amenity. 
Tropical plants, which we carefully screen from the slightest chill, 
geraniums, fuchsias, myrtles, hydrangeas and camellias, here, bloom in 
the open air. The orange, lemon and fig, ripen without protection ; 
the aloe and other species of the cactus, flourish luxuriantly, and it 
would seem that the torrid and temperate zones have combined their 
productions on this favored spot. Grapes of several varieties (with a 
little care) abound, and the pears are really superb, the d'Angouleme 
and Beaumanoir especially, the latter weighing from six ounces to 
thirty; one example of thirty-two. My taste for fruit (a main 
article of my diet, when I can get it) has, therefore, sufficient gratifi- 
cation. 

This Island is also full of historical interest, from the time of Celtic 
predominance down to recent times. The Druidical remains arc 
numerous and very curious. As these islands were, from an early 
date, connected with the dukedom of Normandy, and so, after tho 
conquest, brought under the control of Great Britain, and even now 
retain many of their native laws and usages, we are not surprised to 
find the homes of the principal families indicating their continental 
antiquity ; for here are still De Lisles, De Beauvoirs, Saumareys, and 
others of equally old blood, who hold themselves aloof from the 
Islanders of less chivalric descent. They are said, however, to be 
very simple and kindly in their manners with each other, and not 
inhospitable to strangers, although, personally, I have had little 
opportunity to judge. 

The Reformed religion was introduced here principally by fugitive 
Huguenots, and the pulpits of their very ancient parishes were sup- 
plied by zealous and determined Presbyterians, until that saintly 
defender of the faith, Charles 11., compelled the reluctant anti- 
prelatists to succumb to uniformittj. Even now the ancient spirit so 



396 MEMOIK OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

far lingers, that in several of the rural parishes the -^vhite surplices, o\ 
* change of vestuaent,' has never been tolerated to this day. There 
were instances of heroic constancy among the Non-Comformists of 
Guernsey, worthy of admiration, but the annals of such martyr-like 
devotion have been so zealously suppressed that no native historio- 
grapher, who would tell the story, could escape ostracism from the 
ruling class. At present, the Church of England has it all her own 
way, with the exception of a Scotch Free Church chapel, feebly 
maintained, some Wesleyans, with other Methodist varieties, and a 
few chapels of the Brethren or Bible Christians. Expecting to be shut 
up to the Episcopal service for some months at least, I have availed 
myself of my opportunity to enjoy more freedom while lingering here, 
and sought ray Sabbath refreshment among the Dissenting chapels ; 
but with the exception of the Scotch chapel aforesaid, at present 
supplied by a young licentiate of httle experience, the preaching of 
the ministers I heard indicated more sincerity and earnestness than 
education or Scriptural accuracy. The abuse and neglect of the 
aspirate by an illiterate English declaimer is peculiarly offensive, and, 
spite of one's desire to be serious, irresistibly ludicrous, so that edifi- 
cation under such a declaimer is not very possible. One of them said 
the other night, speaking of the mocking inquiry of the Pharisees 
respecting our Lord, and suiting his emphasis to the occasion : ' They 
haskcd hinsultingly, Oo his e ? ^ H meets with hard treatment in 
Guernsey. 

My own health has certainly been 'mproved by the fresh air of the 
sea, always friendly to me. ^ly most unpleasant symptoms have 
either disappeared or become very favorably modified. Still, I do 
not flatter myself that I am safe, except with great care and attention 
to myself and the blessing of my heavenly Father. The quiet I have 
enjoyed here, during the past three weeks, has probably been the 
best thing that could have happened to me. 

We shall, however, be on our way southwardly as soon as we can, 
and before a very great while I hope to write you from the South of 
France, In the meantime, believe me, with great regard, your 
Very faithful friend, 

Geo. W. Bethunb." 

Thence the party proceeded to the city of Tours ; arriving 



SOUTH OF FRANCE. ^^J 

there about the end of November. Dr. B. made no more 
stay at Tours than was necessary for repose, and the fatiguing 
journey to Bagneres de Bigorre, Hautes Pyrenees, was soon 
completed.* He wrote to Dr. Van Nest : — 

" I have great reason to be thankful that I am as well as I am. I 
shall never recover my health. I do not murmur at my heavenly 
Father's will, but thank him for giving me such warning and proof of 
my being a pilgrim on earth. I pray him to grant me more and more 
grace to be ready when the moment comes at whatever hour that may 
be, and trust also that it is not too great importuning to ask that he 
would spare me so much mental and physical self-control as will pre- 
vent me being an annoyance and mortification to my friends. 

The news of the San Jacinto affair reached me only the other day. 
Whatever may be thought of it at home, it looks ugly over here. 
John Bull is rearing and roaring like one of his namesakes in Bashan. 
For myself I cannot help thinking that we had so much on our hands 
before, as to make it imprudent to take him by the horns. I cannot 
think that the game was worth the candle, i. e., that Slidell and Mason 
are worth the trouble we put ourselves in to catch them. 

My attention has been turned with greater interest to the history 
of the Huguenots, and then very naturally to the present condition of 
evangelical Protestantism in France ; we, in the United States, have 
been not a little misled on the subject, having been made to think 
that the evangelical cause here has been wholly or in part upheld by 
a comparatively small number of Congregationalists dissenting from 
the regular Reformed Church, which is like our own in Presbyterian- 
ism and some other important respects, while the fact is that the 
number of r? on-dissenting Christians is both increasing and influential. 
I think that whatever we do should be for the support and encour- 
agement of piety in the church itself, and not for the uprearing of a 
new and foreign sect, whose whole ecclesiastical constitution is at 
variance with the Huguenot traditions and sacred glory. 

I still hope to be of use in the cause of Evangelical Protestantism 
in Southern Europe, but it will be acting on my own hook. 

* At this place he made a formal resignation of his pastoral charge in Twenty 
First Street, but it was never acted upon by the ecclesiastical authorities. 



398 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

The French National Reformed Church is own sister to our Ee- 
formed Church; and I should be glad to see a closer sympathy between 
our people and the noble band of Confessors for the truth in that 
body. 

Opposite stands the neat Protestant Chapel, of which the most 
excellent minister, the Rev. M. Frossard, (same name really as our 
old friend, Sir John Froissart of the Chronicles, who was a canon 
somewhere in this part of the country) is preacher. He is a capital 
preacher and my kind, good friend. He has another chapel at Tarbes, 
some fifteen miles off, whither he goes On Saturday afternoon, and 
preaches on Sunday morning, when he drives over here in tune to 
preach in the afternoon at three, Mr. F. also preaches on Friday, at 3 p. 
M. There is also an Episcopal or Church of England Chapel (in a 
room at present, but the chapel is to be built when they get money for 
it, which, I fear, is in the paulo post future,) and I go to church, as 
our English neighbors call It, at 11 A.M., where I enjoy the Scriptural 
readings, the always excellent collect for the day (you must have 
observed how very good those collects are), say the Lord's prayer four 
or five times, hear prayers for the Queen half a dozen times, get up 
and down as often as is rubrical and listen to a sermon at least 
negatively good, pay a few francs at the door in answer to an 
announcement by the preacher that the service is maintained wholly by 
voluntary contributions. By the way, there is nothing I do more 
cheerfully than make contributions for such a purpose, whether it be 
for Church of England service or that of the French church. The' 
Church of England deserves great praise for the zeal they show in 
having worship in English wherever they can. It is like springs in 
the desert, oftentimes one hears an excellent sermon, but always the 
Scriptures. Psalms, Gospel and Epistle are good for our learning, and 
the prayers, substantial and evangelical (of which by constant repeti- 
tion we get a little tired), sound more fresh in a land of foreign speech. 
Mr. F. is indefatigable. On Tuesday he was off at 6 a.3i. to Carterets, 
perhaps thirty miles distant, to see the rafters of another chapel raised. 
I believe that he preaches every day somewhere. I have great 
pleasure in his society, and as he speaks enough tolerable English to 
make up for my intolerable French (the only instance of insincerity 
about the man is his insisting that I express myself tres, tres, tres 
bien), we get along very well together." 



FLORENCE, ITALY. 399 

My religious privileges in the ' Pveformed French Church' here 
are very great. The minister is one of the best men and best preachers 
I have ever met with, and the mode of worship, with some slight 
variation in the order of the several parts, is our own. 1. Invocation, 
2. Singing, 3. Reading Commandments, 4. Confession of sins in the 
form written by Beza, 5. Scripture, C. Prayer, 7. Sermon introduced 
by a salutation, 8. Prayer with Lord's Prayer and Creed, 9. Singing, 
10. Benediction. ' The Lord bless you and keep you,' &c. &c., and 
at the door the Deacon holds out his black bag with * Souvenez-vous 
des pauvres, au nom de Dieu.'' 

On Christmas day we had the Lord's Supper after an admirable 
sermon on the Song of the Angels, Luke ii., 14. 

The only changes from the ordinary service were the reading of a 
form or liturgical office for the Supper, and we went forward two by 
two to receive the Sacrament from the hands of the pastor, he address- 
ing us at the time some comfortable words of Scripture. A solemn 
address out of the Liturgy followed, a brief thanksgiving, singing a 
version of the Songof Zacharias, a special remembrance of the poor, 
and the blessing." 

In this connection we quote portions of a letter to the 
Christian Intelligencer, one of Dr. Bethune^s last efforts, 
the writing of which tried his health. It will be perceived 
that he had passed into Italy. 

"Florence, Italy, Aprils, 1862. 

Mk. Editor : Since my last writing to you, we have, by God's bless- 
ing, been able to come from the Pyrenees here, passing through Prov- 
ence and along the Riviera, some of the most charming portions of 
France and Italy. We traveled slowly by carriage, making from thirty- 
five to forty miles a day, and resting a day or more whenever our inva- 
lid needed respite from exertion. I was thus necessarily prevented from 
getting my letters or papers, and from writing myself. 

For yourself, my friend, you do not deserve an apology, as you neg- 
lected to send me the number of the Intelligencer containing my letter, 
or that containing the communication it seems to have called forth from 
Dr. Baird. There is a characteristic ' oiliness ' about everything that 



400 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

the Doctor says or writes, which saved my head from being hurt, al- 
though he may have been roused to such unusual exertion by my having 
intruded on Ms specialUe. Bnt he must learn to consider that, in this 
age of fast steamers and railroads, there are many travellers who are 
neither blind nor deaf; and that monopolies of infallibility, even in re- 
ligious matters, are no longer secure. 

A word in a friend's letter suggests that Dr. Baird was ' replying ' to 
me, which was not so obvious, as the Doctor does not touch at all the 
main point to which I directed my remarks, which was, that, as a Re- 
formed Church, our Church should sympathize with the Reformed Church 
of France, and, if possible, aid our sister communion by aiding the 
treasury of its Evangehzing Society, Za Societe Cenirale d' Evangelisa- 
tion. The Doctor has confounded the preface with which you, Mr. 
Editor, introduced my letter, with the letter itself. It was you, sir, not 
I, who called ' The American and Foreign Christian Union,' (twelve 
syllables) Dr. Baird's Society (seven syllables). It was, nevertheless, 
a natural phrase for an editor's rapid pen, and one no one would doubt 
the meaning of. There may be some persons, who, amidst the multi- 
tudes of Christian Unions, would not at once distinguish ^Ae Society ; 
but who does not know Dr. Baird? On this side of the sea, the Soci- 
ety's name is little known, or lost in translation ; but Dr. Baird's name 
is far-famed and untranslatable. * Oh ! we all know Dr. Baird,' I fre- 
quently heard, though once it was * Eobin Baird.' The Society is his, 
as truly as Minerva was Jupiter's daughter, having sprung from his brain ; 
and, with some imperfections (for that which is born of man is often as 
imperfect as that which is born of woman), a very good invention it is. 
I should know something of it, as I took part in the first large public 
meeting to aid the movement, which was lield at Philadelphia, in the 
year 18-35, (?) I think, in the Central (then Rev. Dr. McDowell's) 
church. Since then, I have spoken at a number of its anniversaries, 
and other public meetings, and preached one of its annual sermons. 
Indeed, I am quite sure that Dr. Baird never made a request of me on 
behalf of his Society (or for himself either, for that matter) which I did 
not comply with. 

It is true, the Society has a President, the best-beloved of us Dutch- 
men, Vice-Presidents a score, and all the articulated anatomy of those 
religious bodies, whose government is not Episcopal, Congregationalist, 



CONTINENTAL PRESBYTERIANISM. 401 

or Presbyterian, but Secretary-ism ; that is. they have a Board, which 
meets to do what the Secretary nas predetermined shall be done. The 
Doctor, while he retains his name, cannot throw off his identity with 
the founder, the inspirer, and engineer of the Society, and must bear 
his consequent responsibility. Indeed, I once heard a distinguished 
lady (widow of an eminent Governor), on coming home from Europe, 
express her surprise that ' Paris was so irreligious, after all Dr. Baird 
had done for Prance.' Be tliis as it may, neither Dr. Baird's name nor 
that of his Society is in all my letter. Neither does the Doctor's com- 
munication impugn any statement I made, but, on the contrary, confirms 
nearly all that I said. 

If I chose, I could show why I do not agree with his statements about 
the pure Presbyterianism of either the Pree Church of Prance (which 
is as like the Pree Church of Scotland, as a horse- chestnut is like a 
chestnut horse, and whose polity may be best described as F. Monod- 
ism,) or of the ' Pree Synod of Geneva.' But as all that is irrelevant to 
my letter, I postpone any more words, until I can give you convinemg 
proof that such Presbyterianism would scarcely pass muster with us. 
I can hardly regret that my letter called forth the long document of 
Dr. Baird, as it is a very able, and, some things excepted, a most in- 
structive paper. No man knows the subject on which it treats so well 
as Dr. Bau-d, who has been some thirty years and more studying it, and 
has had (as every one knows who has listened to liis conversational lec- 
tures) rare opportunities of intercourse with European celebrities, from 
crowned heads and philosophers down. 

Neither was it I (it was you, Mr. Editor) who found fault with Dr. 
Baird's Society for appointing an undue number of Congregationalis ts 
as their agents in their work. I had no right to find fault with a Society 
made up of different denominations for acting as their name ' Union' 
required. If a Congregationalist was a good agent, they had no right 
to reject him because of his sect. What I meant to say was, that it is 
more consistent /or us as a Church to employ agencies resembling our 
own, and to assist our sister Keformed Church to carry on their work, 
than to employ or act through agencies not in harmony with, but, in fact, 
at variance with, the Reformed Church, which every person well-in- 
formed on the subject, must be surprised to hear Dr. Baird say is in- 
ferior as a representative of Presbyterianism, to the so-called ' Union 
26 



402 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

of Evangelical Churches,' which he thinks is a synod. Why do not 
they call it a synod? Is the (Dr. Baird's) ' Christian Union * a synod? 
And why not a union of Preshytcrian churches, if they he a union of 
Presbyterian churches only, and none other f But more of tliis anon. 

Dr. Baird may have reasons for objecting to my letter, but he has no 
right to do so. There are scores of intelligent Christians at home, who 
\n\\ agree with me that they had been led to believe the corruption in 
the National French Church was greater than Dr. Baird unites with me 
in declaring it to be, and must rejoice with me in discovering the more 
agreeable truth. My views respecting an opening of usefulness for our 
own church, should circumstances in Divine Providence permit us to en- 
large our present scheme of missionary operations, involves no oppo- 
sition to Dr. Baird's Society ; and my past course in reference to the 
Christian Union has been utterly the reverse of unfriendliness to it, or 
to Dr. Baird himself. 

The fact is, Mr. Editor, Dr. Baird has happily confirmed every idea in 
my letter, except that our Dutch Church should sympathize with the 
French Church, and support its missionary society, rather than a schis- 
matic, dividing few, whose principal method of begging consists in mis- 
representing the National Church. 

Why has not Dr. Baird's Society encouraged that Church to send to 
the United States a deputation to make a special appeal ? I am sure 
that they would be met with welcome by our Reformed Churches, and 
that we would regard them as in most important particulars homogene- 
ous with ourselves. I am indignant at Dr. Baird's impeachment of the 
orthodox sufficiency of their liturgy and catecliism ! He makes it under 
the indistinct non-committal phrase, * it is said, etc. Does Dr. Baird 
say it ? Will he say that the liturgy and catechism of the National Re- 
formed Church of France have been altered in such a way ' as might be 
expected by heterodox or latitudinarian ministers,' or in other words, so 
as to teach errror or suppress truth ? If Dr. Baird himself makes the 
accusation, I am ready, not in a wiggle-waggle style, but directly and re- 
sponsibly to assert that, after close examination, I cannot discover any- 
thing unsound, equivocal, or defective. In fact, all the mode of wor- 
ship is so strikingly like our own, that, with the exception of some va- 
riation in the mere order of the parts, I could have thought myself in 
the Middle Dutch Church of former days. 



AID FOR LA SOCli^Tt CENTK^VLE. 403 

But you slmll soon Lave the documents, as a young friend who leaves 
this for a slow journey home to-morrow, has promised to take a package 
for me to New York. 

Your friend and brother, 

Geo. "W. Bethune-" 

*'My desire was to bring before our Reformed Church such facts as 
might awaken our sympathy for the Reformed Church of France, and 
possibly secure some help for their propagandist society, 7a socieie cen- 
trale.'' The true men in that church are struggling manfully but Chris- 
tianly with the remnant of errorists within their body, with their hind- 
rances from the State law, and with popery and infidelity all around 
them. I think that they know best how to carry on their proper work 
under God, and that what we intend for evangelization in France, we 
had better send immediately to that society which is really the Domestic 
Missionary Board of the French Reformed Church, instead of sending 
it by other hands. My plan would be to get Synod to address a letter 
of Christian salutation and counsel to the French Reformed Church ; 
and if it can be, to get our Foreign Board to take charge of any money 
good Christians among us may be willing to give for evangelization 
in France, and send it directly to ' la socieie centrale.' I think such a 
letter expressing our faith in the divinity and atonement of Christ, and 
work of his Spirit, would be most welcome to the pious portion of that 
body, and greatly strengthen their hands and hearts." 

Thus was he in that foreign land working for Christ's 
cause. Oh ! what a great heart of love filled his bosom. 
Read his last letter to us, written two weeks before his 
death : 

" It made me not a little sad to think of the actual termination to our 
colleague-ship, not long, but running through two pleasant years, during 
which I learned to know you so well, and to love you more, the more I 
knew you. What nice times we have had together, at least I hope you 
think so, the perfect homishness and abandon with which I sank down 
into that old chair, and smoked the pipe which you or your brother 
John had filled and handed to me. I almost blush to think how egotisti- 



404 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUKE, D. D. 

cally I presumed on being welcome at all times, and to everything; al- 
though it was ' the woman ' tempted me, your inestimable Mrs. Van 
Nest, blessings on her ! Then our more solemn moments, when we al- 
ternated prayer and sermon, never, I think, differing from one another, 
always sympathizing ; only you a little too deferential to the older man, 
who nevertheless enjoyed it as coming from an honest and kind affec- 
tion. 

I sincerely enjoyed also my share of the work ; sometimes, it is true, 
not quite sure that I kept my mind in unison with the people, or that 
they gave themselves up to my guidance in thought; but, nevertheless, 
bent upon preaching the simple and entire gospel to do them good, and 
discharging my duty so far as I might be enabled. I never knew the 
people as well as I wished, but the faces of most of those not too re- 
mote in their sittings in pulpit and lecture-room, rise to my mind's eye 
with photographic distinctness. I hope that by God's blessing I did 
some of them some good. My last regular work was done by your 
side, and I, who, in former years had held up so many, leaned upon 
your strong friendship, ' Very pleasant hast thou been to me ! thy love 
to me was wonderful ! ' Pray for me still, I need your prayers, all your 
prayers." 

What grace, what love, what modesty, what gratitude, 
what holy purpose shine in that letter. The man who 
wrote it was at the gate of Heaven. His epistles at this 
time remind us much of good Mr. Rutherford. The last 
letter in our possession was addressed to Dr. Dunglison : 

" Flokencb, April 18, 1862. 
My Dear Doctor: It is along time since I wrote to you, and in the 
meantime my indebtedness has been increased by your pleasant and very 
welcome letter, in which you roast me for being in a stew about my 
boils, although they were also accompanied by considerable /rtcation (oh ! 
Dr. B.). They had gradually become beautifully less since my leech- 
ing, and now have disappeared altogether. I am rather sorry for it, as 
I thought they might serve to draw off attention from my head. So 
that though there was no fun in having so many excrescences, I rather 
regret to tell you they are gone. Quis taUa fando temperet a lachry- 



LAST LETTER TO DR. DUXGLISON. 405 

mis ? Who can help missing a lack of them. However, dear doctor, 
I have not had any ill turn since I wrote you, but have been very com- 
fortable in most respects. I have notxvrittcn sooner because we had a 
long journey from BagnOres here, during which I was too much hurried, 
or too tired, or both, to use my pen. It was a more difficult and fa- 
tiguing voyage for Mrs. Bethune, than even I had feared ; for the rest, we 
escaped accident or serious injury, and our route was through a pleasant 
country. 

It is so difficult for Mrs. Bethune to get on board a steamer, that we 
came by land, railway or carriage, the whole way, being nearly a month 
about it, and reaching here on the 15th of March. My nephew left us 
on the 24th, so that, in some respects, we are more lonely, but are 
compensated by there being quite a number of American friends all 
around us. "We are still at a hotel but go to lodgings next week for a 
couple of months, after which we shall probably take ourselves to the 
Baths of Lucca for the summer. 

As for the climate, what can you say for any climate in April? 
When the sun shines it is delicious ; when it rains, or when there is snow 
on the Appenines it is trying to the nerves. However, I have liked it on 
the whole. Mrs. B. does not, although I hope the summer will make 
it more pleasing in her eyes. Though the prices of things have in- 
creased, the charms of Florence have not been diminished. The same 
treasures of art, the same loveliness of surrounding scenery, attract the 
voyager from all parts of the world, giving the resident from abroad 
an excellent society of whatever character he prefers ; so that I know 
no place more eligible for a sojourn or a more protracted stay. There 
are just now so many pleasant American people here that with the 
addition of a few Scotch and English my visiting list is a little too large 
for convenience. We have also valuable and extensive libraries and 
collections, but I have little time for study. I was very tranquil (so 
far as news about our country throughout the Trent excitement would 
allow me to be) at Bagneres. I am more interested and amused here. 
I brooded too much at Bagneres. I am more active at Florence. 
The good news from home has brightened the world for me, and I 
have courage respecting the progress of events but we await with 
8ome excitement of anxiety the issue at No. 10, Corinth, Richmond, 
New Orleans, Savannah, and other places. 



406 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

I have no disagreeable symptoms of late. I endeavor to obey your 
directions in every thing, although I cannot entirely suppress the ap- 
prehensiveness which is so natural to one in my physical condition." 

Dr. Bethune's plan in coming to Italy involved the idea 
of Christian activity. He had been encouraged with the 
hope that he might find a sphere of usefulness in the little 
American Chapel at Florence, but the ground was well occu- 
pied by Rev. E. Hall. Then it was suggested that he 
should go to Rome, but '' the American and Foreign Union 
had no chapel there. Gov. Randall, who was appointed am- 
bassador to the papal city had not remained, and Cardinal 
Antonelli will not allow the Protestant Americans to have 
a place of worship. An American ambassador, whose house 
is America, could have it if he choose ; a consul cannot.'' 
Probably it was a kind Providence that kept him from 
assuming this responsibility. 



CLOSING SCENES. 407 



CHAPTER XV. 

CLOSING SCENES. 

It remains to chronicle the death of this good man and 
faithful soldier of Jesus Christ. Although the body had 
given some symptoms of failure, yet the lively letters quoted, 
the genial converse, and continued preaching, prove that his 
.intellectual powers remained undimmed to the last. 

On the 23rd of March he preached in the American 
Chapel on the " Transfiguration.^' His manner was earnest, 
and his sermon deeply interesting and impressive. He 
attended a prayer-meeting held in the English Church in 
behalf of Matamoras and his persecuted companions in 
Spain, where his address produced a marked effect. He 
also offered prayer ; and his first thought when he came out 
of the meeting was that a similar meeting for prayer, unit- 
ing the Italians of the different congregations, should be 
held every day at twelve o'clock. He saw in such a ser- 
vice a means of promoting Christian fellowship which miglit 
accomplish much good. 

He preached again in the American Chapel, April 20th, 
Easter Sunday. His subject was the " Resurrection." It 
was a most eloquent, edif^ang, and comforting discourse. 
Contrary to the solicitations of Mrs. Bethune he preached 
extempore. Ho had the idea that an extempore sermon 
would excite him less than a written one. Though his dis- 
course awakened strong emotion both in himself and his 



408 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE. D. D. 

hearers, yet no serious consequences appeared to follow the 
effort. Thursday, the 24th, Mrs. Hall accompanied the Doc- 
tor to the Baths of Lucca in search of a house, as it was his 
desire to pass the summer there. 

He had also preached for the Scotch minister several 
times, and on the 2'rth of April he agreed to assist him 
again. In the morning, Mrs. Bethune heard him singing in 
his bedroom, " Keep me from fainting in my prayers.'^ He 
was depressed, butinsisted upon meeting his engagement on 
account of Mr. McDougall's domestic affliction. The text 
of the sermon was singularly appropriate to the event which 
followed ; Matt, ix., 2. " And behold they brought unto 
him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed ; and Jesus see- 
ing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy. Son, be of 
good cheer ; thy sins be forgiven thee.'^ Mr. McDougall 
thought he saw an unwonted slowness in speaking, slight 
incorrectness in reading the Psalms and Scriptures, but 
others observed no sign of failure. After service. Dr. Be- 
thune did not feel well, and requested Dr. Hazlett his phy- 
sician to go with him to the vestry. The medical man 
accompanied him to his lodgings, where he soon fell asleep 
upon his chair while talking with Miss Hazlett. He was 
awakened to be placed upon a bed, while leeches were ap- 
plied, but the fatal stroke of apoplexy had come. He 
attempted to speak but could not ; he recognized his beloved 
wife for a moment, and pressed her hand, after which he be- 
came unconscious, and continued so till near midnight, when 
with little suffering, only a shivering of the body, he de- 
parted this life to a blessed immortality. 

On the last evening of his life, while watching the setting 
sun, he said to Mrs. Bethune, 

" Oh I Mary, how I wish that you loved Florence as I 
do. It is beautiful to live in and pleasant to die in.'' 



DIl. BETIIUNE's last IIYMX. 409 

It was mncli against her will that he preached on tlio 
following morning; for she had noticed a -restlessness in 
his eye and manner, which, ever watchful and apprehensive 
as she was, she did not like ; and was much relieved when, 
after the service, she heard his cheerful voice in the adjoin- 
ing apartment. He begged her not to scold him for having 
been preaching extemporaneously. She looked sorrowfully, 
and said, '' How could you ? You must be tired." He 
answered, '' A little/^ 

The following was found in Dr. Bethune's portfolio, and 
was evidently written on the Saturday before his death. 

"When time seems short and death is near, 
And I am prest by doubt and fear, 
And sins, an overflowing tide, 
Assail my peace on every side, 
This thought my refuge still shall be, 
I know the Saviour died forme. 

His name is Jesus, and he died 
For guilty sinners crucified ; 
Content to die that he might win 
Their ransom from the death of sin, 
In o sinner worse than I can be, 
Therefore I know he died for me. 

If grace were bought, I could not buy ; 
If grace were coined, no wealth have I ; 
By grace alone I draw my breath, 
Held up from everlasting death, 
Yet since I know his grace is free 
I know the Saviour died for me. 

I read God's holy word, and find 

Great truths which far transcend my mind, 

And little do I know beside 

Of thoughts so high, so deep and wide; 

This is my best theology, 

I know the Saviour died for me. 



410 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

My faith Is weak, but 'tis thy gift ; 
Thou canst my helpless soul uplift, 
And say ' Thy bonds of death are riven, 
Thy sins by me are all forgiven. 
And thou shalt live from guilt set free 
For I, thy Saviour, died for thee.'" 

We present the notes of his last sermon, but as he had 
preached on the same topic in New York, they may not 
have been prepared for the occasion. These however were 
not read, as the notes were forgotten, or left behind by the 
speaker. 

" ' Behold they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on abed; 
and Jesus, seeing their faith, said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, be of 
good cheer, thy sins be forgiven thee.' Matthew ix., 2. 

To a careless reader, there might appear but little difference between 
one of our Lord's curative miracles and another. Yet when we come to 
observe them closely, each, while they all unite in setting forth his 
mightiness and willingness to save, has some peculiar lesson or tender 
encouragement, so that there is not avariety of spiritual need or distress, 
which cannot find in some particular ministration of the Saviour's mercy 
to bodily infirmity, a parable of his grace to the sinners and the peni- 
tent. 

Sometimes to heal with a word, sometimes with a touch, sometimes 
he touching them, sometimes they touching him. Sometimes the afilicted 
came to him, sometimes he goes to them, sometimes, as in the case before 
us, the sufferer is brought by his believing friends — but if the apphca- 
tion be only made, and the sick one be fairly brought to his notice, he 
heals him, no matter what the disease be, or how desperate its degree. 
It is for this reason that the Holy Ghost has caused the evangelists, es- 
pecially Matthew and Luke, to record with so much simplicity and often 
particularity, his wonderful acts of tenderness and reUef. He himself 
tells us, that while we are to listen to the gracious words of salvation 
which proceeded out of his mouth, we are to believe him for his ' works' 
sake.' 

Sin brought in death ; and the accompaniments, precursors and con- 



LAST SERMON. 411 

sequences of death and the effects of sin — the decay, the death, the cor- 
ruption of the body, show us the greater decay, the more fearful death, 
the eternal condemnation of the sinful soul so that none but He who 
could forgive sin could heal the body, and He who could and was willing 
to heal the body, could and was willing to forgive sin. 

Let us, my fellow-sinners, take the case before us and see what en- 
couragement there is for us to hope in the mercy of Christ. The simple 
words of the verse present us with the scene. The palsied man lying 
on a bed gazing beseechingly up to Jesus, the friends who had brought 
him standing around him in silent yet confident expectation of his cure, 
and the blessed Master regarding their faith with affectionate sympathy 
because of their kindness to their helpless friend, and then turning with 
divine pity to the sufferer himself, delighting himself with the change 
which his merciful and mighty words work in his feelings and in his 
soul. No painter could group them better, but no pencil could give the 
expression of their countenances, especially the Godlike compassion and 
power of Him who delighted to save. 

First. Consider the man's need. He was sick of the palsy. A 
disease peculiarly prostrating. Taking away, often in a moment 
without warning — all the control which the Avill has over the muscles, 
so that the part of the system affected — is, so far as the power of volun- 
tary motion is concerned, dead. 

The consciousness of impotence is humiliating. The paralytic has noth- 
ing of his own to rely upon. He is dependent upon the help of others. 

He has no hope of a cure. This man was very bad. He is so help- 
less that he lies supine and passive, and must be carried. 

Second. Consider the comfort he received. Be of good cheer. 

No other living man had a right so to address him, for it was mockery 
to tell a man who was to lie in such helplessness, to be of good cheer. 
Still it was true that God could help him, and it was as clear that since 
God had come in human likeness to stand by his side and tell him to be 
of good cheer, that God would help him, as we find the Immanuel did. 
Our Lord always required faith of those who sought his help ; and there 
could be no faith where there was not hope — nor hope where there was 
not goo'J cheer. 

Third. The method of comfort. Thy sins be forgiven thee. 

It was radical — it must abound to the root and cause of the evil — the 



412 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

faith of his Saviour, whatever suffering or trouble we have in thitj lif-j 
after our sins are forgiven us, there is nothing that should distress us, 
because God is our friend. Suffering and trouble are blessings because 
they work out our good. We are no longer guilty convicts given over 
to death, but children of the heavenly Father. Son be of good cheer. 

It was sovereign. 

The Son of man had a right to forgive sin. God has a right to 
forsive sin ; because it is against him that we have sinned. God 
must be just in justifying the sinner, and therefore has he appointed and 
accepted the meritorious righteousness of Christ, and given him power 
on earth to forgive sins. 

It was free. 

No condition, no price, no reward, no works. The blessing is simply 
conferred and enjoyed. It was the duty as well as the privilege of the 
sufferer to be of good cheer and believe that his sins are forgiven hira. 

Lessons : 

First ; our utter ruin, helplessness, hopelessness. 

Second ; Christ's power to save, willingness, delight. 

Third ; faith, looking to, reliance upon, expectation from, Christ. 

Fourth; encouragement to attempt the salvation of sinners ; Christ 
approves our faith, sympathizes with our zeal, rewards our efforts to aid 
him in his work. 

Fifth; duty of friends to the unconverted, value of religious friends, 
improvement of tlie advantage of having religious friends. 

He concluded tlius, " Do you pray that tlie weak and 
stumbling sermon this morning ma}^ receive the Divine 
blessing, and it will."' 

Suitable services were held in Forence on the following 
Sunday. Rev. Henry O'Neile of the English church stood in 
the Scotch pulpit, and chose for his text, Numbers, x., 
29. '' We are journeying unto the place of which the Lord 
said, I will give it you : come thou with us, and we will do 
thee good : for the Lord hath spoken good concerning 
Israel.'' 



SAD NEWS TCAVELS HOME. 413 

"These words strike at the root of all our deep-laid 
plans, ai] our distant prospects, all our notions of happiness, 
which have only the world for their place or its direction for 
tlieir limits. Since the last Sabbath when we assembled 
within these walls, we have seen the minister of God, still 
ill the prime of his usefulness and mental vigor, coming 
irom the pulpit where for the last time he delivered the 
message of salvation, which he loved to speak of, and which 
he knew how to announce with such power, just returning 
to his chamber to resign his spirit into his Saviour's hands. 
But 

"It matters little what hour o' the day 
The rigliteous falls asleep ; death cannot come 
To him untimely, wlio is fit to die ; 
The less of the cold earth; the more of Heaven, 
The briefer life, the longer immortality ! ' " 

Soon the sad news was wafted across the Atlantic, and 
the Christian community of America bemoaned their leader. 
The churches in which he had ministered, at Rhinebeck, 
Philadelphia, Brooklyn and Twenty-First Street, clothed 
themselves in mourning. Funeral sermons were preached 
in these and other churches, and the discourses of Drs. 
W. J. Pi. Taylor in Philadelphia, Isaac Ferris in Brooklyn, 
and A. R. Thompson in New York, were afterwards pub- 
lished. The Christian Intelligencer, the organ of the Dutch 
church, shaded its columns with black. When the event 
was announced in the General Assembly of the Presbyterian 
Church, (0. S.), it adjourned in token of respect to tlie 
illustrious dead. The Historical Society of New York held 
a special meeting to commemorate him, when Mr. Bancroft 
and Rev. Dr. Osgood spoke in his praise. The American 



414 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETIIUNE, D. D. 

Philosophical Society directed an Obituary notice to be 
prepared by Dr. Robley Dunglison. It was read before the 
Society and printed in pamphlet form. The testimonies of 
respect in the secular as well as religious press, expressed 
the general feeling that " a prince and a great man had 
fallen in Israel/' 

The remains of Dr. Bethune were embalmed and sent to 
the United States by the British bark, Undine ; the funeral 
services were held at the Reformed Dutch Church, corner of 
Fifth Avenue and Twenty-Ninth Street. It was a remark- 
able circumstance that he had given particular directions as 
to his funeral. 

" Put on me my pulpit gown and bands, with my own pocket Bible in 
my right hand. Bury me with my mother, my father and my grand- 
mother, in the family vault at Greenwood. I have had pleasant 
Christian fellowship with all evangelical denominations, so let my pall- 
bearers be taken from them all. Thus : Drs. Hutton, Cutler, Storrs, 
Mr. Van Dyke, Dr. Prentiss, or, if he cannot be had, Dr. William 
Adams, Rev. Mr. Davie of Flatlands, Rev. Mr. Wheaton Smith of Phila- 
delphia, Dr. Kennedy or some like-minded Methodist, as Dr. McClintock 
or Mr. Milburn. Let a scarf be sent to Dr. Vinton of Trinity, New York, 
and Rev. Dr. Smith Pyne, of Washington. 

Dr. Hutton and Mr. Willets to speak not in eulogy but in such terms 
of affection as they may choose, testifying to my love of preaching the 
simple gospel, and that for my Master's honor, not mine. Mr. Quack- 
enbush and Dr. Taylor of Philadelphia to pray. Dr. Ferris to read the 
sentences from the funeral service prepared by me in the Reformed 
Dutch Liturgy. Braun's funeral chant from 1st Corinthians, xv., by the 
Twenty-First Street choir, to be sung, asking the Millers of Brooklyn to 
join them, and Mr. Johnson if he can. Our own young organist Har- 
rison will play ; sing also my own hymn, ' It is not death, to die,*' to a 
cheerful tune, and at the close (if it can be done,) Horamann's great 
Doxology, ' Now unto Him that loved us.' I should like also that my 
dear friends Mr. J. B. Stewart, Mr. Sutphen, Mr. James N. Prentice, 



FUNERAL ARRANGEMENTS. 415 

and Mr. Trott, if they have no objection, would take their place among 
the mourners, for they will be true mourners I know. The above may 
be modified in any way by my beloved wife who always does what 
pleases me, but I have written the above to save her trouble at a time 
when I know her sorrow will be great. God bless her till we meet in 
bliss for Christ's sake. Amen." * 

Death and other causes led to changes in the pall-bearers, 
but the programme was carried out as far as possible. 

His beautiful hymn runs thus : 

" It is not death to die 

To leave this weary road, 
And midst the brotherhood on high, 
To be at home with God. 

It is not death to close 

The eye long dimmed with tears, 
And wake in glorious repose, 

To spend eternal years. 

It is not death to bear 

The wrench that sets us free 
From dungeon-chain, to breathe the air 

Of boundless liberty. 

It is not death to fling 

Aside this sinful dust, 
And rise, on strong exulting wing, 

To live among the just. 

Jesus, thou Prince of Life ! 

Thy chosen cannot die ; 
Like thee, they conquer in the strife. 

To reign with thee on high. 

* These directions were committed to bis wife's faithful attendant, Annie Dun- 
bar, directly after the funeral of his mother. 



416 MEMOIR OF GEO. AV. liETHUNE, D. D. 

The choir objected that the music was unsuited to the 
mournfuhjess of the occasion, and wished that it should be 
stated that it was not of their selection ; but it was evident 
that Dr. Bethnne did not wish his funeral to be over sad. 
He who had led such a life of joyful thanksgiving would 
have his death brightened by the sunshine of the resurrec- 
tion. 

Nature also smiled cheerily. The closing scene was 
briefly sketched by '' Iren^eus/' Rev. Dr. Prime, of the N. 
Y. Observer : 

" You will remember that when bis gentle and noble heart was still, 
they embalmed bis form and sent it home to us, that we might lay it 
with bis sainted parents' dust. For three long months it was on the 
sea, and we feared the bark that bore it had been lost, and our friend 
had found bis tomb in the unfatbomed caves of ocean, there to rest till 
the sea gives up its dead. But the winds and waves had been charged 
with their errand, and they brought their burden safely here. And 
now devout men were bearing him to bis burial. 

It was at the close of a lovely September day when the procession 
reached Greenwood Cemetery. The tomb, to which it pursued its 
mournful way, was in the most picturesque portion of the grounds. 
On a hillside that slopes to a lake in the middle of which a fountain 
leaps and falls, surrounded by lofty forest trees, and among them white 
marble monuments marking the repose of the dead, here on this bill- 
side the procession rested, and found the open tomb. At the bead 
of it stood Chancellor Ferris, and on either side of him the officiating 
ministers and the bearers, many of them the most venerable and dis- 
tinguished of the clergy, in their pulpit gowns with white scarfs, their 
gray beads uncovered and reverently bowed as the Chancellor read the 
words of Holy Writ, and the body of our departed brother was low- 
ered into the tomb, and laid with bis parents, and bis grandmother 
Isabella Graham. The sun was just setting. Italy rarely if ever sees 
a more glorious sunset. Its last rays lingered in sympathy with us as 
we wept that the light of our friend's face, and voice, and love, like 
the sun, was going out in the darkness of the grave ; but when we 



DK 



PPJME OX THE D^ATII OF DR. BETnUNE. 417 



Leard the iMpturous v/ords, * this mortal shall put on immortality,' 
'I am the resurrection and the life,' we saw him rising and soaring, 
not on the wings of seraphic eloquence, but clothed in white raiment, 
with palms of triumph in his hand before the throne of God and the 
Lamb, a glorified body and soul, rejoicing with the Redeemer and the 
redeemed in his Father's house. 

O blessed are the dead who die in Christ. Why stand we here 
weeping when our brother and friend is blessed in the full enjoyment 
of God. One, far away, receives the sympathy of our hearts ; for her, 
bereaved and desolate, unable to follow her beloved to his grave, and 
detained below while he has gone above, for her we weep, but why 
for him ? AVe hear the voice of the prophet, * Weep ye not for the 
dead, neither bemoan him, but weep sore for him that goeth away ; 
for he shall return no more, nor see his native country.' So wept 
we when Bethune went away ; sorrowing that we should see his face 
no more. But now we will thank God that his brow is covered with 
heavenly glory, and he is among the stars with those who turned 
many to righteousness. 

Too soon for us, too soon ibr thy poor bleeding land, too soon for 
the struggling Church, but not too soon for thee, wast thou borne 
away from this world of conflict to thy serene abode on high. Would 
I were with thee, or even within sight of thy radiant crown! " 

" Call no man happy till he dies," was the ancient saying. 
Not until the record is complete can we pronounce life a 
success. But Dr. Bethune's work was now finished and 
what could we desire to change for the better' ? His last 
days were undoubtedly very pleasant days. Spent in that 
charming Florence, his favorite city, surrounded by delight- 
ful society, for he wrote that if he had a chapel there it 
would be full of people ; his last occupation preaching the 
gospel and speaking from that text which he felt appropri- 
ate to his own condition ; saved from that incapacity which 
he BO much dreaded ; taken almost in a moment of time 
fi-om the services of the church militant to the church tri 
27 



418 MEMOm OF GEO. W. BETHUKE, D. D. 

umphant ; dying on the Lord's day and on that part of the 
day which he always considered his own Sabbath, when, the 
toil of the sanctuary ended, he might repose in sweet com- 
munion with God, with his dear wife by his side, on the 
Sabbath evening this blessed saint fell asleep in Jesus. If 
we had studied to arrange the circumstances could any 
conclusion of life be made more grand, more beautiful, 
more merciful ? 

What addition would we make to his professional success I 
From his first preaching to the slaves and sailors at Savan- 
nah to his last efforts in Twenty First Street, New York, he 
was welcomed with the same enthusiasm. Ilis public life 
was a continued ovation. The New York audience which 
cheered his appearance for several minutes expressed the 
general sentiment. The denomination with which he was 
connected offered him everything she had to give. She 
ofiered her best churches, and more than once elected him 
as Professor of Theology. 

When any important charity was to be advocated, when 
any new temple was to be set apart for the service of God, 
when any great interest was be promoted, when any funda- 
mental principle affecting the church of Christ was to be 
settled, he was the man to whom we all looked. Thus hon- 
ored at home he gained us honor abroad. Each of the 
great catholic Societies invited him to be its orator. Be- 
fore the American Board of Foreign Missions, the American 
and Foreign Christian Union, the Sabbath Association, and 
the American Sunday School Union, he preached the 
accustomed sermon. He was almost an annual speaker 
at the Seamen's Friend and Colonization Societies, while he 
appeared over and over again at the Anniversaries of the 
Bible and Tract Societies. Academical favors were lav- 



DR. bethune's popularity. 419 

ished richly upon him ; Harvard, Yale, Dartmouth, Brown 
University, Columbia, Andover, Union, and many other 
colleges were charmed with his eloquence. In fact, on all 
great public occasions, when a statue of Washington was to 
be inaugurated, when the Brooklyn water-works were to be 
opened, when the Historical Society was to erect a building, 
when honor was to be paid to some great name, when the 
Union was to be preserved, or war to be proclaimed against 
traitors to the Constitution, Dr. Bethune was the man for 
the hour. 

But all this success, this applause of the world, never di- 
verted him from the great duties of his office. Nay, he 
employed all these occasions as so many instruments of 
drawing men to his church and his Saviour. Thirty years 
before, he had declared his solemn purpose : *" My son,' said 
my dying father, the accents of parental and Christian affec- 
tion struggling with the weakness of approaching death, 
' tell dying sinners of a Saviour ; all the rest is folly.' The 
command is safe in my heart, and the cross of Christ shall 
be the ever welcome and exhaustless burden of my ad- 
dresses ; and whether, God, I die in my pulpit or on my 
bed, may my last words be, ' the cross of Christ I the cross 
of Christ ! Jesus Christ and him crucified ! ' " Never did he 
fail from the promise then made, preaching always the sim- 
ple, sincere gospel, and with his dying breath telling of 
Christ's power to comfort and heal. 

It was moreover a merciful Providence that gave him a 
season of preparation for death. The prostration at Brook- 
13m, the anxiety at New York, might be considered misfor- 
tunes, but these were God's messengers of warning and were 
well improved. Dr. Bethune knew not the day, the hour of 



420 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

his death, but he felt that it might come instantly and made 
all his arrangements with perfect composure. 

Then there was a wonderful preaching from his death it- 
self. Before Elijah ascended to heaven he was led through 
tliG country, to visit the schools of the prophets going from 
Gilgal to Bethel, from Bethel to Jericho, from Jericho to the 
Jordan ; everywhere bearing high testimony to his Master. 
So it happened with Dr. Bethune ; God led him round about 
to confirm the churches. We must count it a singular Prov- 
idence that, having attained great eminence as a minister, he 
should be brought from Brooklyn to New York, there to 
preach his sweet discourses and win affection ; then he was 
taken to Catskill to leave a holy impression ; afterwards he 
was led to foreign lands to hold sweet counsel with our Ee- 
formed brethren in France ; finally he reached Florence to 
die, but he lived long enough to speak for Jesus and show 
the beauty of Christian grace. Thus did this man of God 
journey in a holy progress, feeling that death was seated at 
his elbow, living all the while on the very borders of the 
promised land. How could circumstances have been 
arranged to produce a wider impression by his death ? The 
Christian heart of Florence was saddened. The French 
brethren felt the loss, and several churches in this country 
put on sackcloth, while the universal body of Christ felt 
that " the chariot of Israel and the horsemen thereof'^ had 
departed. 

As to the event itself it was more like a translation than 
an ordinary end of life. True his body remained on earth 
but the change was so rapid, there was such freedom from 
sickness and pain, such close connection between his pulpit 
and his crown, there was such a short step from preaching 
the gospel of Christ on earth and joining the great multitude 



^^ik ^;s*s& "'^'^^^ 




BHOWX'S STATIK i>F Dr. BKTHrNK 



MAllBLE HOXUMENT. 421 

wlio sing the praises of Christ in heaven, his end VN^as so 
peaceful and so beautiful that the horror of death was almost 
taken awaj. The chariot of fire and horses of lire were not 
visible, but there were ruinistering angels to bear his ran- 
somed spirit home. 

Then there was the direction to place his Greek Testa- 
ment in his right hand, in his coffin. What did it mean? 
It was a suitable companion to a minister, but did not the 
order discover more of his faith ? How gloriously he used 
to preach about the resurrection I If ever there was a 
time when he was " exalted above measure " ' it was in the 
discussion of this grand doctrine. Perhaps he thought of 
this ; perhaps faith gave the idea. He believed in the day 
of Christ, as coming soon, and when awakened at the 
sound of the last trump he would have this precious gift 
of the Spirit in hand, all ready for service. His was a 
happy life, few better, more useful, more successful; and it 
was blessed, glorious dying. 

Xot long since certain prominent citizens of Xevv York 
assembled to lay plans for the erection of a statue of Dr. 
Bethune. H. K. Browne, Esq., was engaged as artist, and 
has produced a graceful figure in plaster, which it is de- 
signed to put in enduring marble, and to place either in the 
hall of the Historical Society or in some suitable position in 
the Central Park, to commemorate one of the most eloquent 
and gifted sons of the emporium. 

A rare marble monument, inlaid with richest mosaics 
of different colors, and containing a striking likeness 
of Eev. Dr. Bethune, is the work of the Venetian, Salviati, 
who has discovered the ancient Byzantine mosaic arts. 
The work was done at the order of Mrs. Bethune, and is 



422 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

probably the only specimen of the kind in this country. It 
is placed in the Third Reformed Dutch Church, Phila- 
delphia, where her husband was so loved and honored. 
This is the inscription : 

Rev. George W. Bethune, D. D., 

Founder of this Church, 

Was born in New York, March 18, 1805. 

For 37 years 

He rejoiced to preach the Gospel. 

After his sermon, 

On the Lord's Day, April 27, 1862, 

God took him. 

We cannot more appropriately close this chapter than 
with this delightful hymn of its sainted author, — which is 
copied from his own manuscript : — 

HYMN FOR RESURRECTION DAY. 

' I SEE JESUS.' 

" O Jesus, when I think of thee, 
Thy manger, cross and throne. 
My spirit trusts exultingly 
In thee, and thee alone. 

I see thee in thy weakness first ; 

Then, glorious from thy shame, 
I see thee death's strong fetters burst 

And reach heaven's mightiest name. 

In each a brother's love I trace 

By power divine exprest. 
One, in thy Father God's embrace, 

As on thy mother's breast. 

For me thou didst become a man. 
For me didst weep and die. 



RESURRECTION HYMN. 423 

For me achieve thy wondrous plan, 
For me ascend on high. 

O let me share thy holy birth, 

Thy faith, thy death to sin, 
And, strong amidst the toils of earth, 

My heavenly life begin. 

Then shall I know what means the strain 

Triumphant of St. Paul ; 
To live is Christ, to die is gain ! * 

• Christ is my all in all.* " 



424 MEMOIR or GEO. W. BETHUXE, D. D. 



CHAPTER XVI. 

PERSONAL REMINISCENCES. 

Rev. Dr. Hutton, who knew Dr. Bethune from school- 
days, being requested to describe his j^^^^ son nel, writes : 

"You have given me a pleasant but very difficult task; one from 
which I shrink and which I could refuse, were it not that the mere effort 
enables me to gratify the love which I felt, and still feel, for one whom I 
rejoice to have been allowed to call ' my friend,' and who has left the 
touching expression of his regard for myself by selecting me, from his 
many and dear friends, to deliver an address at his funeral. 

I shrink from the task, therefore, only because I feel that the man 
was larger and broader than any description which I can give of him. 
I am certain that I cannot present even my own ideal of him. 

As to his personal appearance, I think that no one would especially 
admire it, unless he were personally and intimately acquainted with 
him. He was in every respect a large man, mentally and jihysically. 
lie wa8 above the ordinary height, but from the shortness of his neck 
and the breadth and rotundity of his person, this Avas not generally 
observed. The high, broad and smooth brow, and the bright, clear, 
blue, Scotch eye, which softened, smiled or gleamed, under his varied 
emotions, redeemed his face from any fault which might be found with 
particular features. I loved to watch the play of his face under almost 
any circumstances in which I was privileged to see him. To me it was 
always interesting, often beautiful, and sometimes grand and eloquent. 

As I thus recall his appearance, there rises before me a picture which 
memory has embalmed, and which fills my eyes with tears. It is of his 
face, when I unexpectedly entered his study and found him engaged at 
his table, his head raised to see who was the intruder. The brow cor- 



DR. hutton's description. 425 

rugated with thought, the eye stern and slightly indignant, and then to 
see the sudden change, like the sun breaking through the cloud, the 
whole face lighting up, the genial smile, and the peculiar heave of the 
huge shoulders as he laid aside book or pen and grasped me by the 
hand, is a picture not to be described, but enjoyed forever. 

His features in their combination, whatever else may be said of 
them, were expressive of thought, humour, courage ; and I am sure 
that were the Doctor seen in a crowd of men, he would be singled 
out with the inquiry' who is he ? ' Surrounded from his infancy with all 
the advantages which wealth and culture could bestow, he was in the 
true sense of the word a gentleman, polished and graceful in all his move- 
ments, especially in his action as a speaker. I cannot recall an ungrace- 
ful action on any occasion, and as a platform speaker he had few equals. 
His voice was singularly melodious ; strong, yet soft, and of great 
compass, filling the largest building, and when on the platform, where 
the whole man could be seen, his looks, the pose of his head, every mus- 
cle of his strong marked face, the glance of liis eye, the tread of his foot, 
and every movement of his body, were instinct with power and emotion. 
For these occasions, he once informed me, he only prepared himself by 
a general train of thought, leaving language, and, in many respects, ar- 
rangement, to the occasion ; but his mind moved so rapidly and clearly, 
and his thoughts arranged themselves so naturally and promptly, that 
they never became confused or failed to be effective. Many who re- 
member the contest between Abolitionism and the Colonization Society, 
and the part which Dr. Bethune took in it, will agree with me in my 
estimation of him as a platform speaker. They have seen him hold 
large audiences completely spell-bound, filled with pleasure or interest, 
laughing with mirth, or thrilling with indignation, as he willed. 

As a preacher I never heard him without pleasure and profit, and in 
many important respects I consider him to have been a glorious 
model. He was so in the principles which guided him as a preacher 
of the Gospel. He never forgot when in the pulpit, that he was the 
ambassador of God; and all the powers of the man were subordinated to 
his exalted vievr of his work. Dr. Bethune was poet as well as orator, 
he had a fine and cultivated imagination, but he never allowed it to play 
in the pulpit, save only in aid of the truth. The fruit was never hidden 
by flower or foliage. He had been a student of the Greek and Latin 



42 C BIEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

classics, and admired them mucli, but they never were allowedto appear 
intrusively in his sermons. His style was simple, plain, neat and direct. 
He was full of humour, with a vivid sense of the ridiculous; but no one 
Avho only heard him in the pulpit would imagine it ; there the solemnity 
of his work seemed to have entirely subdued every thought and feeling 
inconsistent with the duties owed to his Divine Master. "Were I not 
afraid that I might be understood to intimate that there was something 
artificial in his pulpit performances (which there was not), I should say 
that there was something reverential in the very tones of his voice. 

This perhaps is the very word which will express my idea of his pulpit 
performances. The whole seemed enveloped in an atmosphere which 
made you remark ' That man feels that he is in the presence of God, and 
never forgets it'. But after all, I am not satisfied with what my pen is 
recording. You cannot take Dr. Bethune apart and submit his peculiar- 
ities to analysis. Dr. Bethune was justDr. Bethune; the whole genial 
man modified his peculiarities and qualifications. Much as he was to be 
admired and esteemed in his public life, much as we may commend him 
as scholar, orator, poet and preacher, it was to the single friend, in the 
retirement of social intercourse, that the whole lovable, genial man, the 
brother, the childlike heart were developed. Then you were made to 
feel that the great and admired orator had all the simplicity of a little 
child, that the man whom the world delighted to honour, was an humble 
self-distrustful Christian ; that the eloquence wliich delighted the large 
public audiences that loved to hang on his lips, was the glow of his own 
quiet emotions, and the natural thought of his mind. I loved Bethune, 
but I learned to love and admire him, not in the forum, but in the study, 
at the midnight hour, in the quiet scenes which were hidden from the 
public gaze." 

In reference to his appearance Dr. Bethune told with much 
spirit a story which reflected upon himself. When he was 
pastor in New York, passing through Twenty Second street 
an Irish servant addressed him: " Please, Misther, will you 
come into the house ? the Mistress would like to spake with 
you.'' The polite divine acceded to the invitation, and soon 
a well dressed lady appeared, expressing great pleasure in 



ANECDOTES. 427 

making his acquaintance ; after conversing a few moments, 
the Doctor said, " You wished to see me, I understand. '^ 
••' Indeed/' replied the ladj with a little confusion, " I am 
most happy to know Dr. Bethune ; " and then proceeded to 
talk volubly. " Excuse me madam," said the Doctor 
returning to the charge, " the servant informed me that you 
wished to see me particularly.'' " Well," confessed the 
lady much abashed, "if I must tell you the truth, I directed 
the servant that if ihQ fatman came along to-day she must 
stop him for I wanted to speak with him." 

His powers of conversation were well known, and, perhaps, 
in no gift did he shine more pre-eminently than in the ability 
to entertain a social circle. Seldom did he appear more happy 
than when some chosen spirits had gathered round his festive 
board; as for instance, "the Five," in Philadelphia; "the 
Friends," in Brooklyn, or the ''Alpha Delta," which was 
the name of his ministerial club in New York. 

An incident is related of a young lady who against her 
will was beguiled by his honeyed tongue. She had taken 
her seat in a car going to New York when a stout gentle- 
man passed through, apparently looking for a place. Soon 
he returned and, although there were many vacant seats, he 
came and crowded himself by her side. His size made this 
intrusion the less agreeable and the lady was much dis- 
pleased. He made some attempts at conversation but she 
resolutely looked out of the window and answered all ques- 
tions in monosyllables. Still, in a few minutes, her resolu- 
tion was broken and she found herself charmed with her 
companion. Arrived at Dr. "Waiuwright's house, where she 
had been invited to dine, what was her astonishment to find 
this same stout gentleman taking his seat by the side of Mrs. 
Wainwright, and to learn that he was one of the lights of 



428 ME3I0IR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, U. D. 

the Ainerican pulpit, Rev. Dr. Betliune. The recognition 
was mutual and explanations ensued. The doctor told her 
that he passed through the car to select an agreeable travel- 
ling companion, that he choose a seat by her side as most 
promising. He noticed her aversion and determined accord- 
ing to his ability to overcome it. The effort had been crowned 
with equal success. 

Dr. Bethune's beneficence has been frequently mentioned ; 
but an anecdote will illustrate the freedom of his gifts. 

** Money in his view had no value except as it contributed to make 
some body happy or advanced the cause of his Master. In this 
view he required more salary as a minister, and a heavier purse for 
giving, than most men in his station in life. A debt was a burden to 
liim, but he would not hesitate a moment to incur it when he wanted 
the means to fulfil the promptings of his generous heart. A friend 
called upon him one day in New York, a few months before he left 
that city for his last voyage across the Atlantic. After sitting a few 
minutes together in the study, Dr. Bethune was summoned to the 
parlor by a * call.' It was for a charity, and he soon returned, with 
that pleasant look, which proves that ' it is more blessed to give than 
to receive.' In a short time another 'call' and he paid his five dol- 
lars, (he seldom gave less) with alacrity, but was a little annoyed at 
the interruptions. In less than half an hour he was again summoned 
to the parlor, and this time it was a lady, — a subscription to some ' to- 
be-published ' religious work of the applicant. He returned a moment 
to ask if his friend could change a ten dollar gold piece ; he could not, 
and shortly the Doctor came back once more laughing and said, 
* There, they've got all the money I had in the house, and now well go 
on quietly with our talk.' He had given thirty-four dollars away in 
twice as many minutes, and seemed perfectly satisfied." 

Mrs. Bethune remember? that on the last Chiistmas day 
spent in New York, her husband came in to dinner with an 
unusually happy face. She asked, ^'What pleases you so much?" 



BENEVOLENCE. 429 

He repliecl, "I am so glr.tl I met with the old Scotch womrai as 
I came through the market to buy your fruits and llowers. 
I saw a person, poor but neat looking, anxiously examining 
some chickens and said to her, ' These are poor, those are 
better.' She looked at me sharply and spoke in broad Scotch. 
'Ah! but they are too dear for a puir body/ I told the 
man to put one with vegetables into her basket and turned 
away hastily, but she followed me with such a look of joy 
and surprise that I cannot help feeling happy." Probably 
nothing could create for Dr. Bethune such a merry Christ- 
mas as the incident above. Benevolent himself, he delighted 
to teach others the happiness of doing good. The invitations 
to preach charity sermons were numerous and he possessed 
a happy faculty in persuading people thus to lend unto the 
Lord. His mother suggested that he should keep a list of 
the monies thus secured for religious interests, and if it had 
been done the sum would have been very large. 

He seemed quite destitute of the sense of fear. Mr. Trott 
relates that on a certain occasion the Doctor fell from a dam 
by Avhich they were attempting to cross a rapid stream. The 
Major was greatly alarmed, expecting to see his companion 
borne away by the waters ; but, directly afterwards, the good 
clergyman's head emerged from some still water, and with 
great composure, he handed up his watch, requesting Mr. 
Trott to take care of it. 

But his calling was the ministry and to this he devoted 
his best energies. The following impression is related by 
that prince of pulpit description, Eev. Dr. Sprague: 

" When I heard Dr. Bethune in his own pulpit the subject of his 
discourse was the resurrection of the dead, and I believe this was 
legarded as one of his finest efforts, as he had delivered the same dis- 
course a Tveek or two before, and repeated it then by special request. 



430 MEMOIR OF GEO. W. BETHUNE, D. D. 

Besides containing a luminous scriptural view of the doctrine, if my 
memory serves me, lie indulged himself in a part of the discourse in a 
somewhat philosophical vein, showing that he was capable of abstruse 
metaphysical disquisition, though there was not so much of this as to 
materially diminish the effect upon a popular assembly. He exhibited 
his subject in its consolatory bearings with inimitable pathos, and 
uttered himself with a fervent sublimity that bore his audience onward 
and upward by an impulse that seemed quite irresistible. His manner 
was strikingly simple, dignified, earnest and energetic ; and though 
there was nothing that derogated in the least from its naturalness, yet 
it was manifiestly the result of the highest culture and made me feel 
that I was in contact with not only a highly gifted, but thoroughly 
accomplished mind. He held his audience, for I think fully an hour, 
in breathless silence ; a fact which I thought more noticeable, as it 
was in his own church and the larger part of his congregation were 
his stated hearers, who were familiar with his attractive peculiarities." 

One of his hearers used to say that Dr. Bethune when in 
the height of many of his perorations in the pulpit, reminded 
him of the majesty of the lion when he shook his mane and 
showed himself the monarch of the forest. 

Another, most capable of judging, writes thus of his 
preaching : 

"I think that he excelled in the gift of leading poor sinners to 
Christ, because he would show them their need of salvation and leave 
them no other hope. He set forth God^s controversy with souls which 
were out of Christ, more plainly than any other preacher I ever heard. 
It was not alone that we had fallen in Adam and were totally corrupt 
by nature ; it was not that we are wholly unable to turn from our 
sinful wanderings and choose a better service ; but it was because we 
would not come to Christ and receive life, that we were justly condemned 
and without excuse. He would so unfold the heart of the sinner to 
himself that without one descriptive epithet, he would see how destitute 
it was of any natural holiness or likeness to God ; he would show how 
vainly that heart might struggle to redeem itself; he would then 
remove one after another of the vain reliances at which men grasp to 
avoid the humbUng doctrines of the Cross, and leave this needy 



CHA113I OF 3IANNER. 431 

trembling soul, like Peter, sinking in the treacherous waves, with no 
hope except in the agonizing cry * Lord, save rae.' 

But I took my pen to sketch, not the preacher, but the friend. As 
I recall scene after scene of social life, in which his presence not only 
fills the foreground, but, like a special brightness, lights up all the 
picture, I strive to sum in one word the secret of that radiating 
glory. What was the charm, always potent, which he carried 
to every circle ? His presence was an inspiration of joy, alike to 
each individual and to the social group. Vast resources of learning, 
without pedantry ; varied accomplishments, without ostentation ; a 
fund of ready wit, which had no taint of satirical bitterness ; a keener 
vision in discerning the secret springs of human action, with no cen- 
soriousness of spirit ; an innate sense of propriety never at fault ; 
great conversational powers, with a delicacy of taste which gave a 
new and graceful drapery even to familiar thoughts: — these were 
gifts which made it easy for him to shine in any circle. But the 
charm was universal, and it needed more than this to account for 
the never-ceasing radiance. It must have been that, beneath all 
these gifts and accomplishments he had, sanctified by grace, a great 
heart of love that was ever welling up in blessing to all around him. 
The genial influence which went with him like an atmosphere, could 
have had no other source. It was never put on : it was not in the 
manner, but controlled it ; it was not in the speech, but dictated it ; 
it was not in the effort to bless others, but prompted it. It was a 
perennial spring, full of natural overflow, but turned from nature's 
bitterness, like Marah's waters, by the Branch of Healing; and 
thenceforth a fountain of perpetual blessing to all who tasted. 
Those that have sat by him in his library, while the swift-winged 
hours went by ; or have visited with him in the family, where the 
face of the youngest child glowed with delight at his coming, or 
have seen him in larger social gatherings, where no shadows came 
between him and the hearts about him, — will, readily accept the 
explanation I have given of the secret of his personal influence. 

But the memories that have deepest root and the most enduring 
fragrance, are those which associate this loving friend with the sick 
room or the scenes of mourning. If his presence brought such 
brightness to the house of joy, what a blessing came with it to the 
home shadowed by affliction. By the bed of pain he had that sym- 



432 MEMOlli OF GEO. Vi. BETHUNE, D. D. 

pathizlng tenderness learned only of the Master. Here he v/as as 
gentle as a ministering angel. There was soothing in the tone of 
Lis voice ; there was relief in the touch of his hand ; he seemed to 
lift the weight of anguish from the sufferer and bear part of it him- 
self. These chords of his loving heart had been touched so often, 
and with such rare skill beneath his own roof, that a deeper than 
ordinary experience had fitted him to minister unto others. And 
while soothing the bodily anguish, how skillfully would he lead the 
soul to lay its sicknesses at the feet of One who alone could 
restore k. 

And when the shadow deepened and bereavement came, what a 
clasping hand was his for that bitter hour. How near he would 
bring the Heavenly Home to which the loved one had been 
translated ! And how tenderly he would gather up, one by one, 
the ties which seemed all broken by this visible separation, and 
bind them into a three-fold cord to draw the heart heavenward, 
not only for comfort during the hours of grief, but for strength 
and hope in all the future pilgrimage." 

The Rev. Dr. Taylor has famished the following reminis- 
cences of Dr. Bethune's services and influence in the highest 
court of the Church. 

*' Dr. Bethune's bearing In Ecclesiastical assemblies was peculiarly 
dignified and impressive. His reports on important subjects, as tha 
minutes of the General Synod attest, were full and exhaustive. In 
debate he was a master of logic, repartee, courtesy and strength. 
He watched the proceedings closely, was keenly alive to the weak 
points of opponents and equally sensitive to his OAvn position and 
influence. Some of his most powerful speeches were delivered in 
these assemblies of the Church, when great questions were at issue, 
and able opponents stirred him up to use his whole strength. ISIul- 
titudes will attest how well he could employ his native wit or his 
classic culture, how choice and accurate he was in his Scriptural 
quotations and illustrations, and how liberal and yet conservative 
upon all important matters of doctrine and discipline ; whlls those 
who unfortunately provoked his overwhelming replies will not soon 
forget them. 

On one occasion he produced a report respecting the State of 



DR. TAYLOIi*S KEiNIINISCENCES. 433 

Religion, which embraced a censure of a class of ministers who, for 
their own reasons, had secularized themselves more or less, and this 
at a time when the lack of ministers was the greatest trial of the 
Church. A member of the Synod, Avho felt aggrieved by the report, 
had prepared himself as lie thought to demolish its author at the 
next morning session. 

The Doctor was at the clerk's table, ready to proceed with his own 
remarks, when this member in stentorian tones, called for the reading of 
the report. * What part of it does the brother wish to hear ? ' the chair- 
man calmly asked. ' That part which contains slanders upon the minis- 
try,' said the member. The Doctor looked at him for a moment, then 
<;ast the report upon the table, and witii withering power merely answer- 
ed, < ]\Ir. President, I have tioihing to read for that brother ! ' The charge 
was drawn in an instant, and the defeated assailant sank quietly into his 
seat, while the report was discussed and adopted. 

One of the Doctor's most memorable speeches was made at a synod 
held in Brooklyn, in which an appeal was being heard against action of 
a consistory, in excluding an elder-elect from office on the ground of his 
being a member of an Odd Fellows' lodge. The debate covered tlie 
whole ground of expediency, not only respecting secret societies, but 
dancing and other fashionable amusements ; and it gave full play to the 
wit, learning, and ethical skill of our eloquent friend. 

The writer has a most vivid remembrance of the great debate, extend- 
ing over several days in the General Synod at New Brunswick in 1855, 
upon the question of the erection of a new Theological Ilall for the Sem- 
inary in that city. It was a critical time for the Institution, and a 
complication of difficulties and disappointments embarrassed it with 
much excitement of feeling, and awakened profound interest in and out 
of the Synod. The church edifice was thronged, and each party girded 
itself for the conflict. Dr. Bethune, as chairman of the committee on 
education, made an elaborate report favoring the erection of a Theolog- 
ical Hall and proposing plans to secure the requisite funds. The debate 
developed his wonderful power as a ' master of assemblies' with great 
tact, and with an eloquence which stamped him as one of the greatest of 
ecclesiastical orators. lie has left nothing in print superior to some of 
the magnificent passages of his chief speech on this subject. But his 
'winged words' were not reported, and they live only in the memories of 
his enchanted hearers, and in the triumphant success of the plan of 
28 



434 me:.ioip. of geo. w. eethune, d. d. 

■which he was the principal advocate and defender in that Synod. It is 
a remarkable coincidence that the entire sum (about $32,000) necessary 
for erecting the building, was given by a former Philadelphia parishion- 
er of the Doctor, the late Mrs. Anna Hertzog. It bears the name of her 
deceased husband, the ' Peter Hertzog Theological Hall'. Hundreds of 
young men have found in it a home and a blessing. In 1853, Dr. Be- 
thune was appointed a member of the Committee of the General Synod 
for the revision of the Liturgy of the Eeformed Dutch Church. The 
Eev. Dr. E. S. Porter, one of the Committee, says of Dr. Bethune's la- 
bors in this arduous and protracted service — for which his studies and 
tastes had peculiarly fitted him : Pirst, the alteration and improvement 
of the prayer before sermon were by him exclusively. He also went 
over all the prayers, and with the incidental aid of the Committee, 
amended their phraseology in some places where the translator or print- 
er had been at fault. The Burial Service was furnished by Dr. B. as 
it now stands. He also submitted a Marriage form, but it was not adopted 
entire. 

Prom first to last. Dr. Bethune gave his constant attention to all the 
subject matter submitted to the Committee, and felt a sincere desire to 
place before the Synod a revised copy of the Liturgy, which, when 
adopted might secure uniformity in our public usages. But we were all 
obliged to bear a disappointment. The Synod fell into an interminable 
debate about colons, semi-colons, commas and stops of one kind and an- 
other ; and at length this only was gained, that the Revised Liturgy 
was permitted to be published. Still, I think, it is every year growing 
in favor and they who use it approve the results of the Committee's hon- 
est and hopeful labors." 

" Dr. Bethune was accustomed" says a writer in the Independent, prob- 
ably Dr. Storrs, "to speak of his early academical training as imperfect; 
not however through the want of the amplest opportunities which love 
and wealth could furnish him, but only tlnrough the want of any purpose 
on his part to improve himself by means of them. But in later years he 
was a fond and faithful student, not of philosophy and theology only, but 
of the best English literature, and of the classics. Pew men were more 
familiar with the whole circle of English eloquence and poetry ; and very 
few certainly, outside of the professional students and teachers of the 
languages, were so conversant as he with the Greek and Latin letters. 



LOVE OF BOOKS. 435 

On his working night, the lights rarely left his windows until long after 
midnight, and the large and various library he had collected, showed the 
breadth and variety of his mental tastes, and scholarly culture." 

When he was in London Dr. Bethune gratified his taste 
in this direction. 

" I have now got among hooks. There you know my chief passion 
lies — for, next to my sweet wife. I think I love those inanimate but ever 
faithful friends, who are always ready to hold communion with you, and 
make the heart forget its troubles in the pleasures of the soul. Of course 
I do not mean to say I have been reading much, that is out of the ques- 
tion ; but there is a pleasure which the student finds in but the sight and 
handling of volumes with which he has long been acquainted by report, 
but which he has never seen before ; we come to think of books as liv- 
ing creatures, and love to look upon their faces, as it were. Yet I have 
not been buying more than a very few volumes — I know I cannot afford 
it, and am determined to deny myself." 

As to the library itself, the scene of labor where so many 
of his great works were prepared, it had been accumulated 
at large expense and with much care. In the purchase he 
was constantly aided by his mother. " I cannot deny mj^- 
self books/' he wrote to her, '* it would be like muzzling the 
ox that treadeth out the corn." 

In the year 1857, in a list of the noted private libraries of 
New York, that of Dr. Bethune was included, and a de- 
scription of it given by Dr. Wynne : 

"Dr. Bethune has but a poor opinion of his own library. Having 
gathered it slowly for the studies incident to his own profession, and for 
the gratification of such tastes as may be allowed to relieve his more 
severe pursuits, he regards it more as a collection of instruments of 
work. Every volume in it being familiar to him from use, he has never 
catalogued it, and scarcely suspected it of being half its real extent un- 
til, by actual count, we convinced him that it numbered at leas